Following the end of the most recent anti-pandemic restrictions imposed on non-essential businesses in Macau at the beginning of the month, the territory’s casinos and malls are ready to receive customers once again. Unfortunately, limitations and restrictions still exist and the venues resemble ghost towns.
The Current State of Things
Home to more than a dozen worldwide appreciated casinos located on the Macau Peninsula and the Cotai Strip, Macau is currently the most prominent gambling hub on the planet. All casinos in the territory controlled by China are operated according to a government-led franchise. The Venetian, Wynn Macau, MGM Macau, and Grand Lisboa are just a few of the most noteworthy venues here.
Prior to the start of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, they were visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists on a yearly basis. In fact, Macau’s economy is almost exclusively supported by gambling. The territory’s dependence on casino games has, however, been drastically laid bare in the past two years. Prior to the pandemic, ninety percent of Macau visitors used to come from mainland China, where gambling continues to be illegal.
The country that is still holding on to a very strict “zero-COVID” policy has been issuing severe restrictions and lockdown requirements for its people in the past months. The massive coronavirus outbreak recorded in Macau at the beginning of July 2022 also forced all non-essential business operators to shut the blinds. Casinos and retail malls could not escape the harsh restrictions, joining the rest of the entertainment facilities, cinemas, bars, and schools that were closed earlier.
Now, Macau’s casinos have once again opened their doors to the general public. Sadly, casino revenues continue to plunge and take a heavy toll on the economy. As a result, hundreds of businesses are forced to shut down, causing the unemployment rate to reach its all-time peak in the past two decades.
Gambling Floors Remain Empty
As anticipated, most of the gaming floors in Macau’s biggest casinos have remained empty after the casinos received permission to open their gates on July 23. However, specific conditions are still in place. Casinos are only allowed to operate with less than half of their personnel. Popular venues like Wynn Macau, Grand Lisboa, The Venetian, and MGM Macau have already imposed their own set of restrictions. Some of them are now operating with less than 20% of their regular number of gaming tables. In exchange, most slot machines have remained operational. Patrons looking to enter these casinos must show a negative rapid antigen test to be allowed to enter the premises. They must also wear a mask that is N95 or above.
Macau’s Malls Are Not Doing Any Better
It’s not only the casinos in Macau’s Integrated Resorts that are suffering from the severe anti-pandemic measures. Now, once the restrictions have been lifted, most of the industrial and commercial businesses continue to remain closed with the exception of pharmacies and take-away food stores.
While the official number of confirmed cases in the territory has been below ten for four days in a row, and there were no confirmed cases in the past 48 hours, Macau continues to resemble a ghost town with almost no inhabitants. Between July 23 and July 31, Macau residents are still asked to wear N95 masks or face coverings when going out. Residents who can go to work in person are also required to take nucleic acid tests every 48 hours. All Macau residents are asked to take daily, mandatory rapid antigen tests. Macau will also run a nucleic acid test on July 30 and July 31 on all citizens. According to reports at the beginning of the month, Macau’s casinos are less likely to swing back to operation in the near future.