Macau Orders All Casinos To Close For Two Weeks Over Virus Outbreak

Macau has ordered all casinos to close for the next two weeks as coronavirus confirmed cases and deaths increase in mainland China, according to Bloomberg. The Chinese autonomous region’s new chief executive, Ho Iat-Seng, suspended all 38 casino operations on Tuesday for the next two weeks to limit the spread of the deadly virus.

Macau is the world’s largest gambling hub, has been struggling with declining annual revenue for the last several years as the regional economy stalled. The shutdown will be another blow to the industry and the longest ever period of closure. The second-longest was when a typhoon in 2018 forced a two-day shutdown.

Ho told the territory’s 600,000 residents to quarantine themselves inside their homes and only go outside for essential goods.

Additionally, he said the city has significantly cut back transportation, and many businesses have shuttered operations after ten confirmed cases of the virus have so far been reported in the town.

Macau casino shares dropped almost 4% Tuesday on the news of a two-week closure. MGM China Holdings Ltd. and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. were down the most.

“This is indeed an extreme measure. It is unlikely for casino operators to pass all this burden to the staff so that they may bear all the fixed costs and expenses,” said Angela Han Lee, equity analyst with China Renaissance Securities HK. “Near-term profit might fall into negative territory.”

The shutdown comes as casinos have reported the fourth straight month of revenue declines as China’s economy slows. Trade wars, Hong Kong protests, and virus outbreaks have certainly weighed down the regional economy.

Macau decided on Jan. 27 to ban all travelers from Wuhan and Hubei province unless they could provide officials with a health pass showing they were free of the virus.

The virus outbreak is expected to cut growth forecasts for China this quarter and likely into the second. A faltering China would also weigh on growth perspectives across the world.