Manila Casinos Back on Lockdown as COVID-19 Threat Rises

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Last October, after repeatedly dealing with COVID-19 issues, Manila finally found some relief. The Philippine city was the last to be able to lower its threat level, from 3 to 2, which gave area casinos a little breathing room. It was short-lived, though, as the threat level is being returned to 3. For the next two weeks, Manila casinos will be on lockdown.

Manila Casinos’ Nightmare Returns

After the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) recommended that the COVID-19 alert level be raised in Metro Manila to Level 3, casinos and other gambling establishments were ordered to close.

Initially, Alert Level 3 will be in effect from January 3 to 15. The IATF-EID predicts a spike in case numbers due to holiday activities and decreased compliance with public health precautions in the next few days. Alert Level 2 will be maintained for the rest of the country.

The government announced the new classification by stating that activities considered high-risk for transmission will not be permitted, including “casinos, horse racing, cockfighting and operation of cockpits, lottery and betting shops, and other gaming establishments, except those that will be allowed by the IATF or Office of the President.”

In-person lessons, contact sports, karaoke bars and clubs, theatres, funfairs and carnivals will all be prohibited during the raised threat level. In addition, household gatherings are permitted, but off-limits to anyone from outside the household.

MICE venues, weddings, funerals, libraries, museums, galleries, amusement arcades, as well as restaurants, spas, salons and fitness studios, will also be permitted to operate. If they’re indoor activities, the limit is 30% of the normal capacity. Outdoor events can operate at 50% of their regular capacity.

New COVID-19 Cases Threaten Manila

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles stated that there was an “exponential rise” in traffic during the holidays. He also suggested that compliance with public health standards might have been ignored, adding that local omicron variant cases have been found.

On Friday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines rose to 2,961, an increase from just weeks ago when the figure was only in the double-digit range. The figure has steadily and constantly risen since December 24 when 129 cases were reported.

Manila’s casinos had previously been granted permission to reopen at 30% capacity to the public on October 16, when the NCR’s alert level was reduced from Level 4 to Level 3. Although casinos had been closed since August 6, VIP guests were allowed to enter them from September 16.

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