Macau’s civil service will gradually resume its “basic” services next week, the government announced at its daily press conference about the COVID-19 threat on Friday.
According to Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau (SAFP) Director Kou Peng Kuan, “some” basic services will be “gradually” resumed on Monday. The services had been reduced to “urgent” services this week.
Kou stressed that from Monday all citizens must present a self-filled health e-declaration when entering any public administration premises. He was quick to add that officials would be ready to help citizens unable to fill out the e-declaration.
The Macau government employes 33,000 people. Kou said it depended on each bureau chief how many of his or her staff would be required to go back to work next week.
Citizens entering government premises must wear facemasks.
Meanwhile, officials declined to respond to reporters’ questions about when Macau’s 41 casinos would be allowed by the government to reopen for business.
One of the officials merely said the government would suggest that the casinos initially only ask 50 per cent of their staff to go to work. She said this suggestion was also meant for other private businesses.
Government officials said early this month that some 40,000 workers were being affected by the temporary shutdown of the gaming industry.
The city’s six gaming operators have promised to continue paying their workers’ salaries during the shutdown. The gaming industry generated 86 per cent of the government’s income in the first 11 months of last year, according to the latest available official statistics.
The government announced a financial support package for citizens and businesses, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular, Thursday.
The measures include a 3,000 pataca (US$375) consumption e-voucher for all residents, as well as a string of tax deductions and rebates as well as a host of other benefits.
The casinos were temporarily closed for 15 days on February 5 to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.
While officials said at that time that the casinos would be closed for two weeks, an executive order by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng on the issue is open-ended.
Based on the initial 15-day period, the casinos could reopen next Thursday (February 20) at the earliest.
Health Bureau (SSM) officials stressed during Friday’s press conference that no new confirmed novel coronavirus cases have been reported in the past 24 hours.
The last case was confirmed on February 4, when Ho announced the two-week closure of the gaming industry and other entertainment businesses. Macau has so far confirmed 10 COVID-19 cases, comprising seven tourists from Wuhan and three locals.
Three of the patients, all of them from Wuhan, have meanwhile been discharged and returned to the mainland.
SSM officials said on Friday that 21 people were currently being tested for possible COVID-19 infection.
They stressed that all the 10 cases have been “mild” forms of the disease. The officials also said that 392 “high-risk” shuttle bus drivers had meanwhile tested negative for the virus.