Casinos in the Chinese territory of Macau will reopen Friday after a 15-day closure. The decision to end the closures was announced by Lei Wai-nong, secretary for economy and finance. Health officials announced that casino operators have 30 days to go back to full business. Anyone who enters the casinos will be required to wear a mask and have their temperature checked.
The closures were imposed to help block the spread of China’s coronavirus outbreak. The government announced the temporary closure of the city’s 41 casinos Feb. 5 after officials found that the coronavirus had sickened 10 people in the city. The Sands China, Wynn Macau, SJM Holdings, MGM China, Galaxy Entertainment, and Melco Resorts all shut down their casinos to comply with the directive. Macau has not reported any new cases of the virus since then.
Casino gambling is a major industry in Macau, a former Portuguese colony west of Hong Kong on China’s southern coast. The city receives about 76 percent of its revenue from the industry. The gambling sites took in more than $37 billion in revenue in 2018. Major casino operators, including Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands Corp., have been hurt by the closures.
While the casinos have been given the green light to reopen, the city’s strict controls on visitor entry and the suspension of ferry services from Hong Kong are likely to dampen business. Other public facilities, including cinemas, internet cafes, bars and gyms, still are closed. No date has been announced for their reopening.
The coronavirus outbreak has sickened at least 71,000 people globally, with 1,770 deaths reported. Roughly 60 million people are now under lockdown in various cities in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.