HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Macau will shut most venues including bars, nightclubs, cinemas, gyms and hair salons, as well as banning dining-in services at restaurants, as the world's largest gambling hub struggles to contain its worst ever Covid-19 outbreak.
The mandate will take effect from 5pm on Thursday (June 23), according to a government statement, which doesn't specify how long the curbs will last.
Macau has already shut schools and public venues, and is conducting a mass testing to weed out hidden chains of community transmission.
Casinos are not affected by the restrictions for now. The city hasn't shut its casinos since an unprecedented 15-day closure in February 2020.
Macau's tighter social-distancing restrictions are likely to deal another blow to the city, which has been struggling with a dearth of tourists and slumping revenue as mainland China's zero-Covid policies discourage travel to the enclave.
Beyond the virus, the casino industry, which contributes to 80 per cent of the government income, is facing other challenges including a new law that significantly increases government control over operations and Beijing's crackdown on high-rolling gamblers to curb capital outflow.
For now, Macau remains quarantine-free for travellers from low-risk areas in mainland China, the largest source of its tourism, while a 10-day quarantine is required for those who enter from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Portugal and some high-risk mainland regions. It is otherwise shut to the rest of the world.
The neighbouring mainland city of Zhuhai has further tightened its border restrictions for visitors from Macau, requiring seven days of quarantine at designated facilities and another seven days of self-health monitoring. Before the outbreak, arrivals didn't have to undergo any isolation.
Zhuhai has also locked down some areas after finding a small number of imported infections from Macau.
Macau's gross gaming revenue plunged more than 60 per cent year-on-year in both April and May, while visitation has remained at less than 20 per cent of the pre-Covid levels in 2019 since the beginning of the year.
Casinos are already burning through millions of dollars of cash each day. Most only have enough liquidity to survive between nine months and two years, JPMorgan Chase & Co analysts including Mr DS Kim wrote in a note on Sunday.