Macau Mass testing, third round

Macau will kick off a third round of mass testing of its population on Monday as the number of confirmed Covid cases rises to 261.

The government will also hand out rapid antigen tests and KN-95 masks to all residents.

The city is currently undergoing the worst Covid outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic and almost all leisure facilities are closed, with the government urging residents to stay at home.

The casinos, however, remain open, even though there is almost no visitation.

Analysts are expecting near-zero revenue this month for the six operators and say the outlook into next month is also highly uncertain. 

At a specially convened press conference last week, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said the outbreak was more severe and complex than prior ones, local media reports.

Asked why the casinos had not been asked to close, he said the government had come to an arrangement with the operators after the 15-day shutdown at the beginning of the pandemic to only close a property if a Covid case was found. 

“We agreed with the casinos at the time [in 2020] that in case of any new confirmed cases found in a casino, only this casino will suspend operation instead of all casinos,” he was cited as saying by Macau Business. “We are continuing to follow this arrangement and principle.”

Although the casinos have not been told to close, nearly all other facilities at the resort have shut their doors, according to advisories on their websites. 

In-room and takeaway services are available, but pools, bars and restaurants are shut and retail is operating on limited hours.