Macau Confirms Three New COVID-19 Cases, Golden Week Spoiled
The COVID-19 situation in Macau continues to worsen.
Late yesterday, Macau’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center confirmed two additional positive test results. It took the day’s new case tally to three.
The detections ended any hope of Macau and neighboring Zhuhai allowing travelers to come and go without quarantine requirements and strict negative test windows for entry. The spread additionally led to Macau canceling another planned public consultation to discuss possible regulatory amendments to the enclave’s gaming industry.
The confirmation of coronavirus in Macau has additionally resulted in the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) once again conducting an enclave-wide testing blitz. It’s the third time the region has required all residents and people in the area to immediately undergo a COVID-19 test.
Despite being in China, where COVID-19 is thought to have originated, this week’s new patients are only the 72nd, 73rd, and 74th confirmed cases in Macau.
Golden Week Loses Luster
This week is supposed to be one of the busiest times of the year in Macau. China’s annual Golden Week, the celebration of the establishment of the People’s Republic on October 1, 1949, affords Chinese people time off to commemorate their nation’s founding.
Many traditionally take a vacation during this time, and Macau is a major beneficiary. Prior to the pandemic, approximately 980,000 people traveled to the casino hub during the October Golden Week period.
This year, government officials have counted less than 5,000 visitors total over the first three days of the holiday. COVID-19 has long threatened to dampen the 2021 Golden Week. But things are more dire than previously expected. Prior to the three new cases, analysts projected that Macau would welcome 40,000 visitors daily during the seven-day period.
Macau casino resorts are largely vacant. Five-star accommodations are going for as little as $100 per night, inclusive of taxes and fees. In 2019, those same rooms were going for $500 or more per night.
Macau’s six commercial casino operators will see their licenses expire next June. At that time, the SAR government, through its Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) is expected to issue fresh operating privileges, but under new terms.
The DICJ wants to meet with the public to discuss refreshed conditions that the casinos might operate under in the next regulatory tenure. Potential updated governances include permits being slashed in half from 20 years to 10 years, closer monitoring of VIP junket groups, and perhaps the government and public taking an equity ownership position in each company.
COVID-19, however, is getting in the way of the DICJ public meets. The latest coronavirus situation has forced the gaming consultation slated for this Saturday, October, 9 to be called off. It’s the second public consultation to be canceled because of the health crisis.
The SAR government has the option to extend the gaming concessions one time. The odds of that happening seem likelier because of the ongoing concerns with the pandemic. Macau’s 2001 gaming law allows the local government and DICJ to extend the operating licenses for up to five years.
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