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Macau announces plans to reopen casinos from Saturday

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
Macau chief executive Ho Iat-Seng has issued instructions that from midnight on 23 July, companies engaged in industrial or commercial activities, including casinos, can operate on a limited basis.

The opening of these businesses will be subject to the Macau Health Bureau’s guidelines for epidemic prevention and will not include nurseries, shops in shopping malls or ongoing interior renovation works on buildings.

The chief executive also maintained his stay at home order, asking the public to remain indoors except for travelling to work, going out shopping, or other necessary tasks. Those leaving their residences are expected to wear N95 masks at all times.

Cinemas, cinemas, indoor playgrounds, game consoles and electronic game rooms, internet cafes, billiard rooms, bowling alleys, steam baths, massage parlours, beauty parlours, fitness parlours, health clubs, karaoke venues, bars, nightclubs, discos, dance halls and swimming pools will continue to be closed until further notice.

Restaurants will only provide takeaway service and will not resume indoor dining. With these continuing restrictions in place it remains to be seen how busy the concessionaires will be following reopening.

Macau had first closed down, and then extended, the closure of all non-essential industrial and commercial activities from 11-22 July as the outbreak mounted, with many people stuck in place at locations throughout the city, including in the Hotel Lisboa casino.

While the outbreak is relatively small by western standards and is yet to produce a single death, China’s ongoing “zero-Covid” strategy means that any cases in a region can lead to severe government action.

According to official figures, over 90% of residents in the Special Administrative Region are fully vaccinated, meaning that they have had at least two doses of the vaccine.

In the last week, the number of new Covid cases per day has steadily reduced from a high of 109 confirmed cases on 10 July, to only six incidents on 18 July.

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