Macau Continues Mass Testing While Keeping Casinos Open

China’s vainglorious attempt to keep the spread of the COVID-19 infection under to a zero has been punctuated by on-again-off-again lockdowns that have translated into a grim outlook about Macau’s recovery and plunging business bottom lines. On Monday, the Chinese territory has begun its second day of intensified testing which will take a sample from everyone in the SAR, with banks, government services, schools, and numerous other businesses remaining shut down.

Casinos to Remain Open, But Nobody to Play

This is not the case for casinos that have been spared this time around. The testing is supposed to end on Tuesday and it will seek to subject all 600,000 SAR residents to a nasal swab in a bid to quickly identify and isolate the causes of COVID-19 which have been transmitted locally. Macau is committed to upholding China’s own “zero COVID” policy which has been whisking away financial opportunity and generally getting on citizens’ nerves.

But the country, and now Macau, have remained adamant in the face of local resistance to some of the measures. The fact that casinos remain open is not really helpful, though, as there is practically nobody to play there. That’s because residents have been asked to stay at home and stricter border controls have discouraged tens of thousands to cross into Macau to gamble.

This is likely to get even worse now that COVID-19 has been once again detected in the territory. Macau’s chief executive Ho Iat Seng said that the latest flare-up of the infection caught everyone by surprise and managed to spread quickly. Macau is one of the few places where the COVID-19 pandemic has been rare, mostly because the territory practiced very strict self-isolation for the better part of the pandemic.

Impacting Legislative Attempts to Overhaul Laws

The last registered cases of the infection were caught in October 2021. Neighboring Hong Kong, though, suffered a far worse fate with one million infections and 9,000 deaths. Apart from having a very real impact on casinos’ bottom line, the new outbreak could also delay the voting of new gambling laws for Macau. A vote is planned to take place on Tuesday when the mass testing should end. It’s possible that this would now be a delay.

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