Macau shuts leisure sites amid Covid, casinos can still run
Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, has used his powers to gazette the shutting of most leisure facilities in the city with effect from 5pm on Thursday.
He affirmed at a 2.30pm press conference the latest round of “immediate prevention” steps to break the chain of transmission for the current outbreak of Covid-19, which saw the confirmed case tally rise to 110 by Thursday morning.
The city’s casinos were not on the list of places that must shutter. The Chief Executive said the situation would be analysed on a case-by-case basis, depending on the development of the outbreak, and that it was important to ensure job stability.
Mr Ho confirmed during the briefing that the recently-identified BA.5 subvariant of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 – considered highly transmissible – had been detected among local infections.
The Chief Executive said that another round of mass testing of the community, that started at 9am on Thursday and is due to run until midnight on Friday, was very important to assess the actual situation, but that for now there will not be a need for so-called district area lockdowns, as most cases being caught were in an initial stage of infection.
As of Thursday morning, a total of 4,109 people was being monitored for risk of infection, with 554 of those identified as “close contacts” of confirmed cases, according to a statement issued at around 11am.
From 5pm on Thursday, Macau’s entertainment venues – excluding casinos – will have to suspend their operations. That is according to an executive order from Macau’s Chief Executive, under powers relating to the Law on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Infectious Diseases. The document does not state a length of time for the closure.
Venues that will have to shutter include: cinemas, theatres, indoor playgrounds, game-console and electronic-game rooms, Internet cafes, and billiard rooms. Beaches will also be closed.
Also out of action from 5pm will be: bowling alleys, steam baths, massage parlours, beauty salons, fitness salons, health clubs, karaoke venues, bars, night clubs, discotheques, and dance halls.
Restaurant dining-in has been temporarily banned since Sunday, with only takeaway sales allowed. The restriction has also been included in Thursday’s executive order.
Other outdoor leisure areas, such as parks, gardens and beaches, will also be temporarily shut, as well as cultural and sports venues.
In several casino resort venues run by the city’s gaming operators, spas, gymnasiums, beauty salons, swimming pools, lounges and bars were already closed as of Monday.