Macau officials announced yesterday that they would talk with casino operators and suggest a complete shut-down of casinos in Macau for a two-week period or more if needed. The talks took place a couple of hours after the announcement, and they seem to have been successful, as casinos are about to shut down all operations.
This is one of the measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak which has already killed 420+ people in a bit more than a month. Mainland China has been taking measures to prevent the virus from spreading, as more than 20,000 people are reported infected, with most of them being located in the Hubei province, the city of Wuhan.
The virus reached Macau as well. Although no deaths were reported, there were several cases of coronavirus which caused concern among casino operators, authorities, and casino workers in particular. A group of people representing casino workers strongly advocated for a shut-down, and it seems that they have succeeded in their effort.
Casino Operators Take Pledge
Two companies called Sands China Limited and Wynn Macau Limited, which are basically subsidiaries of Sands Las Vegas and Wynn Resorts, have pledged to continue paying salaries. They will do that even though the casinos will be closed for almost 15 days, meaning they will not ask any of the workers to take unpaid leave.
There are 41 casinos at the moment in Macau, and all of them are about to close their doors to visitors. Although this is definitely not good for business, it’s the least they can do to save the lives of workers and visitors. Many people working in casinos were basically in constant contact with visitors from all over the world, meaning they were in danger of contracting coronavirus that way.
According to GGRAsia, [http://www.ggrasia.com/casinos-closing-midnight-tuesday-macau-govt/] the decision to close the casinos came after the tenth confirmed case. The patient was a 59-year-old bus driver who was an employee of SJM Holdings Limited and whose job was to transport visitors from Casino Grand Lisboa to Casino Oceanus. However, according to the Macau Health Bureau, the driver probably contracted the virus after making a private trip to mainland China, instead of getting it from someone inside Macau.
Although casinos were closed, there was an initial idea to close the borders as well, but Ho Iat Seng, Chief Executive of Macau, had stated that it would not be a good idea. According to him, closing border checkpoints would have an adverse effect on people who live in China and have to travel for work. Moreover, closing borders would effectively cut off all food supplies to Macau. He stated that the “Wuhan virus” was expected to peak in approximately seven to ten days. After that, the number of cases should not increase that rapidly.
Nevertheless, Ho changed his mind shortly after and decided to suspend all ferry services that take place between Hong Kong and Macau.
Macau has taken a serious blow, as did entire China. However, they are doing all they can in order to put the virus under control.
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