Beijing, Jul 11 (EFE).- Macao announced a week-long closure of all non-essential businesses, including its famous casinos, from Monday to contain a coronavirus outbreak on the island.
“All industries and commercial companies and venues in Macao are required to suspend operation from after the stroke of midnight on 11 July until the stroke of midnight on 18 July 2022,” Macau’s Government Information Bureau said in a weekend statement.
Companies providing basic public services such as water, electricity, natural gas and other fuel, telecommunication services, public transport and waste collection, will be exempt, according to the order posted on the bureau’s website.
Services deemed necessary will also remain open, including wet markets, supermarkets, restaurants, food and beverage establishments, pharmacies and healthcare services.
Macao, which has recorded 1,526 cases since June 18, began a two-day city-wide Covid-19 testing program on Sunday.
In a statement on Monday, the bureau urged citizens to get tested “as soon as possible” and warned that those refusing to take the test would be “subject to medical observation at (a) designated venue for 14 days.”
Following the closure, the shares of companies operating casinos in Macao, such as Century Entertainment and Sands China, fell 10 percent and 7 percent respectively at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday morning.
Gambling in Macao, known as the Las Vegas of Asia, dates back to the 16th century, when the city was one of the favorite destinations for gamblers.
The Portuguese government of Macao legalized gambling in 1847, a status that was also maintained from 1999, when the former colony returned to Chinese control.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing strict border controls led to a 79 percent drop in gaming revenue in Macao in 2020.
Since the start of the pandemic, Macao, which follows a policy similar to that of the “zero Covid” strategy in mainland China, has registered some 1,700 cases and two deaths. EFE