Macau casino operators are facing fresh challenges after the local government imposed new visitor entry limits to minimize further spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
On Tuesday (24 March), Macau’s government make announcement that it would bar entry to all non-residents who visited foreign countries in the previous 14 days. Similar restrictions were imposed on international arrivals last week, but mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan had been exempted from those rules.
Macau has been forced to act after confirming a handful of new COVID-19 cases brought into the special administrative region of China by individuals who’d contacted the virus outside Macau. Hong Kong announced similar restrictions on foreign arrivals – including those from Macau – that will also take effect Wednesday (25 March).
As of Wednesday, returning Macau residents, as well as residents of mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan who haven’t traveled abroad in the past two weeks, will need to spend 14 days in quarantine upon their arrival in Macau. Mainland residents who haven’t traveled abroad or visited either Hong Kong or Taiwan will need to undergo medical scrutiny at a government-run facility.
Macau casino operators have been struggling ever since China imposed significant travel restrictions in late-January when the outbreak in China’s Hubei province was at its peak. The following month, Macau’s government ordered all casinos to suspend operations for 15 days, which led February’s gaming revenue to suffer an unprecedented 88% year-on-year decline.
While Macau’s casinos are slowly getting back to something resembling normal, Macau’s Statistics and Census Service said last week that the number of visitors to Macau in February fell by 95.6% from the same month last year. Over the first two months of 2020, visitation is down nearly 57% year-on-year.
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