China: Macao Locks Down All Residents for Virus Testing After Shutting Down Casinos

Pedestrians wearing face masks pass the Casino Lisboa, operated by SJM Holdings Ltd., after its lights were switched off at dusk in Macau, China, on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Casinos in Macau, the Chinese territory that's the world's biggest gambling hub, closed for 15 days as China tries to contain …
Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nearly all of Macau’s 680,000-plus residents were confined to their homes on Monday as part of the Chinese gambling hub’s effort to contain its latest Chinese coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported.

“More than 30 zones in the city that have been deemed high risk are now under lockdown, meaning no one is allowed to enter or exit for at least 5 days. While the government said it was not imposing a citywide lockdown, the stringent measures mean Macau is effectively closed,” the news agency reported on July 11.

“Police will monitor flows of people outside and stringent punishments will be imposed for those who disobey,” Macau’s government, which is directly administered by China’s ruling Communist Party, said on Monday as quoted by Reuters.

A July 12 report by China’s state-run Global Times also suggested that most of Macau’s residents were essentially sealed inside their homes this week.

“In addition to nucleic acid tests, all residents in Macao should undergo a rapid antigen test every day until July 17, and upload the test result to a designated platform,” the newspaper relayed.

Other Chinese cities that have recently imposed such Chinese coronavirus testing measures have often coupled them with an added restriction on movement for those who test positive for the disease.

The Global Times noted on Tuesday that Macau’s continued mass testing for the Chinese coronavirus, which began on June 19 along with its latest outbreak of the disease, will likely lead to a windfall for Chinese diagnostic companies contracted to provide the city with the tests.

The newspaper further reported on July 12 that “all industries and commercial companies and venues in Macao are required to suspend operation from July 11 until July 18.”

Macau’s blanket business closure includes all of the gambling hub’s 30-plus casinos, according to Reuters.

Macau is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China that is located along the country’s southern coast a short distance from Hong Kong. The city’s casinos generate taxes worth 80 percent of Macau’s government revenue, meaning the local economy is almost totally dependent on the gambling industry. Macau is the world’s top destination for gambling and regularly boasts greater business figures than Las Vegas.

“Gambling in Macau, which was legalized in the 1850s, makes up a large portion of the region’s economy,” Statista observed on May 24.

“Revenue from gaming and gambling there exceeded 29 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. To put this into perspective, gambling revenue in one of the most famous gaming centers in the world, Las Vegas, generally reaches around six billion U.S. dollars annually,” according to the data website.

Macau’s reliance on the gambling industry meant it hesitated to shutter its casinos until July 11, more than three weeks after first announcing public venue closures and movement restrictions to contain its latest Chinese coronavirus outbreak.

“Casinos were last shut in Macau in February 2020 for 15 days [due to the Chinese coronavirus],” Reuters recalled on Monday. “The government has previously been hesitant to close casinos due to its mandate to protect jobs. The industry employs most of the population directly and indirectly.”

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