Macau casinos have finally reopened Saturday after almost a two-week shutdown was mandated in an effort to slow down and stop the spread of COVID-19.
However, no tourists equate to business being slow for the gaming venues, and analysts have estimated that the closures would cost the casinos $1 billion.
In response, the government has proposed to distribute $1.24 billion to businesses affected by the shutdown. Officials have also emphasized that, even if allowed to return to business, casinos shall be required to limit their staff numbers to 50% only and must follow strict disinfection and health guidelines.
Other than that, activities that require the removal of masks for long periods of time, such as eating, is not allowed indoors unless there is a separate room for each person. The starting phase of business resumption goes through July 29, along with public transport being reinstated, with passenger capacity at 60%.
Non-gaming venues such as bars, cinemas, malls and nightclubs are to remain closed, while dining in at restaurants is also banned. Even though Macau's 41 casinos are allowed to open for the time being, it is unlikely they will open several tables due to an expected lack of customers.
President of the Power of the Macao Gaming Association Stephen Lau told Bloomberg, "We won't be seeing any tourists. At the rate things are going, tourists may not come back until mid- or late-August."
The casino regulator, Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, said to local media that 35 casinos have resumed operations on Saturday, July 23. Meanwhile, two casinos at Broadway Macau and Regency Art Hotel remain closed as their associated hotels are currently being used as quarantine areas.
Casinos were allowed to reopen after two weeks of closure as COVID-19 cases have massively dropped in the past few days. The city had five cases on Saturday, compared to 146 at the peak of the latest outbreak. The Asian gaming hub adheres to Beijing's "Covid Zero" policy.
Macau's gaming revenue has already plummeted 46% in the first half of the year, amid repeated lockdowns and travel restrictions since outbreaks appeared in mainland China in March. The outbreak in Macau started in June, prompting a shutdown from July 11.
Morgan Stanley analyst Praveen Choudhary estimates that the city's gaming industry this year may only collect $7 billion in revenue, a 35% drop from last year, and would be 81% lower than pre-pandemic in 2019.