The Macau government announced Monday afternoon that the city’s casinos can reopen for business on Thursday, following their 15-day government-ordered closure to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong announced the reopening of the casinos during a daily press conference by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre about the COVID-19 epidemic. Before the government ordered their temporary closure, 39 of Macau’s 41 licensed casinos were operating. Two are said to have been closed for quite a while.
Lei said the casinos, which are run by six rival operators (SJM, Galaxy, Sands, MGM, Melco and Wynn), can restart their business at 00:00 on Thursday. Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng had ordered the temporary closure on February 4 when the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 10. Lei also said that from Thursday, the six gaming operators have 30 days to relaunch their full business operations.
Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon stressed during the press conference that only the government has the power to announce the closure and reopening of the city’s casinos. His remarks came after some casino executives are understood to have “announced” the reopening of their business operations this morning.
Cheong also pointed out that the lifting of the closure order is limited to the gaming industry for the time being so that other entertainment businesses such as bars and nightclubs will remain closed by government order until further notice.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U announced during the press conference a string of stricter border control measures for non-resident workers shuttling between Zhuhai and Macau.
Three of Macau’s five policy secretaries attended the press conference.