Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng thanked Macau people on Wednesday for their “understanding and support” of the government’s ongoing battle against the novel coronavirus.
Ho expressed his gratitude in an open letter to Macau’s nearly 680,000 inhabitants.
The chief executive, who has been in his post since late last year, also expressed his gratitude to public servants’ “arduous” work in preventing and fighting the virus.
Macau has 10 confirmed novel coronavirus patients – seven tourists from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, and three local residents. All of them are reported to be in a stable condition.
Ho also said in his letter that Macau’s efforts to prevent and fight the epidemic had reached a phase that “is even more harsh and difficult.”
The government announced Tuesday the closure of Macau’s 41 casinos and all other entertainment venues such as bars, nightclubs and amusement arcades for two weeks from Wednesday.
The last time that all of the city’s casinos, which generate some three-quarters of the government’s tax revenue and employ some 15 per cent of the workforce, were closed was when Macau was hit by Typhoon Mangkhut in September 2018.
Local residents have told The Macau Post Daily they can’t remember that Macau’s casinos were ever closed for half a month.
Macau’s first casinos were licensed by its then Portuguese administration in the mid-19th century.
In the past, some of the casinos were closed during typhoons, flooding and blackouts – the latter happened quite frequently in Macau until the 1990s.
Ho also urged all Macau people to join forces with the government to overcome all difficulties caused by the novel coronavirus crisis and get the city back to normal before long.
The 62-year-old chief executive, a former business community leader and ex-president of the local legislature, pledged to protect Macau people’s health and life “at all costs” and to ensure public order and security so that civil society can return to normality as soon as possible.
Ho, a former member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), also expressed his special gratitude for Macau’s medical community and public servants for their round-the-clock and selfless efforts to protect the population against the virus threat. He said that he fully understood the physical and mental burden they are facing such as when closely dealing with confirmed patients of the virus.
The chief executive promised that his government will make an all-out effort to ensure the adequate provision of protective gear by medical professionals and law enforcement officers involved in the anti-virus battle. He praised their altruism.
Ho’s administration has repeatedly reassured the public that Macau has sufficient food supplies.
Triggered by online rumours that the city’s borders would be closed, Macau has faced Tuesday a run on supermarkets for greens, fruits and daily necessities.
Ho told a press conference Tuesday that the government had no intention of closing Macau’s borders, considering Macau’s close links with the Chinese mainland.
Virtually all of Macau’s foodstuffs are imported from the mainland, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
There is no farming and little manufacturing in Macau.
Many shops and offices and some restaurants remained close on Wednesday but banks stayed open. However, clients entering bank premises needs to go through body temperature checks.
The government has ordered that all public transport passengers must wear facemasks.
All ferry links between Hong Kong and Macau have been suspended by the Hong Kong government. Ho revealed during Tuesday’s press conference that the Hong Kong government had failed to inform Macau of its decision earlier this week of suspending all ferry links between the two special administrative regions.
Conversely, he said that his government had not informed its Hong Kong counterpart of its decision to close all casinos. Hongkongers are the number-two segment of local casinos’ gamblers, after mainlanders.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
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