Macau Covid restrictions back with MGM Cotai lockdown

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
Authorities in Macau have reimposed a suite of Covid-19 restrictions in the wake of a new case among a staff member at MGM Resorts’ casino and hotel MGM Cotai, following three months without a case in the region.

On Sunday, officials announced a lockdown at the Cotai after a small number of cases were detected – with staff and guests expected to remain in place until 1 November. Until the situation is resolved every single person in the special administrative region is expected to take a daily Covid test.

Casinos themselves are expected to implement a number of health measures, keep strict records of their staff’s activities and conduct a host of inspections as part of the disease control effort.

“In order to improve the efficiency of epidemiological investigations during the epidemic, people with a common trajectory are reminded to take tests as soon as possible,” regulator the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) said.

“This is so that the health authorities can find people at risk of the disease, as well as manage and control infections. This is to reduce and curb the risk of the virus spreading in the community.”

The news is a blow to the casino sector, which has struggled to recover as it continued to implement a “Covid-zero” policy. Under this policy regime, even relatively small outbreaks by western standards have led to firm government responses. The city is three months removed from the end of its most recent lockdown, in which all casinos were closed.

Macau’s casino revenue remained 50% below 2021 levels in September. This figure itself is much reduced from the pre-pandemic peak.

Despite upping certain measures, the Macau and mainland Chinese governments have not indicated any plans for a U-turn on the planned relaxing of visa rules set to begin on Tuesday. The sanction of online and group visas will increase the Macau number of daily visitors to 40,000 according to a prediction from the Macau chief executive, Ho Iat-Seng.

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