China Power | Society | East Asia
Macau’s famous casinos will remain open – for now – but further lockdowns bode ill for the tourist-reliant city.
Macau authorities on Wednesday ordered the closure of entertainment venues and coronavirus tests for its 600,000 residents, after the gambling city confirmed four new infections. The closure covers gyms, bars, massage parlors, and karaoke places, but not the casinos for which Macau, a special administrative region of China, is famous.
The city plans to test some 600,000 residents after a family of four tested positive for the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant. The mass testing is expected to last three days. The daughter had recently returned from an exchange trip to mainland China, where authorities believe she was infected.
China is currently in the midst of its worst coronavirus outbreak since the start of the pandemic a year and a half ago. The country is on high alert as an outbreak of cases connected to the international airport in the eastern city of Nanjing touched at least 17 provinces. Those cases have been identified as being caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant that first was identified in India.
China reported 71 new cases of COVID-19 from local transmission Wednesday, more than half of them in coastal Jiangsu province, of which Nanjing is the capital. Yangzhou, a city next to Nanjing, had recorded 126 cases as of Tuesday. Other COVID-19 hotspots have emerged in Wuhan, the central city where the first cases of COVID-19 were identified in late 2019, Zhangjiajie, near a scenic area in Hunan province, and Yunnan province, along the border with Myanmar. Another outbreak in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, started with people who arrived from Myanmar by air.
Macau has reported only 59 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, with no deaths. Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng said at a news conference that if there are no new infections in the next 14 days, normal economic activities will resume.
The new cases have sparked concern about the economy of the city that is heavily reliant on tourism. It is the only Chinese city where casinos are legal. Since the pandemic began, casinos, and hotels have been hit hard as travel restrictions led to a drastic reduction in the number of affluent visitors.
Authorities in nearby Hong Kong said they removed Macau from a travel program that exempts city arrivals from quarantine.