Macau to close all casinos in bid to stem Covid outbreak

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Macau casinos to close Ito stem Covid outbreak

The Asian gambling centre of Macau will close all its casinos for a week from Monday and largely restrict people to their homes as it tries to stop a Covid-19 outbreak that has infected more than 1,400 people in the past three weeks.

All businesses have been ordered to shut except for supermarkets and others providing essential services. Residents must stay at home unless they need to go out to buy food or if they work in a sector deemed essential.

Macau, a semi-autonomous Chinese region like nearby Hong Kong, is facing its first sizeable outbreak of the pandemic.

The city of 680,000 people recorded 93 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total in the ongoing outbreak to 1,467.

The former Portuguese colony has been following a version of China’s “zero-Covid” strategy, locking down buildings that have cases and conducting repeated rounds of mass testing to find and isolate infected individuals.

Authorities have warned that police will be patrolling the streets and violators will face penalties, according to reports in Macau.

Anyone going out must wear a mask, with adults required to use an N95 or equivalent one.

The measures expand on restrictions that have been in place since June 23. The earlier order closed hair salons, gyms, cinemas, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues and banned dining in restaurants, limiting them to takeaway or delivery.

Macau’s economy is heavily dependent on its casinos and related businesses, which have been hit hard by the pandemic. Revenue from gambling recovered somewhat last year but is still far below pre-pandemic levels.

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