Macau has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases since the end of September, and its casino operators have now introduced vaccination proof and testing measures for employees. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
All six operators back measures
After maintaining an impressively low rate of infections since the beginning of the pandemic, the Asian gambling hub of Macau has experienced a rise in coronavirus cases over the past few months. That spike only represents 14 new cases since the end of September, but fears of a wider spread have resulted in tighter government restrictions.
proof of COVID-19 vaccination or receive a weekly test for the virus
Now, Macau’s casino operators have implemented new coronaviurs measures of their own. Moving forward, all casino employees must either have proof of COVID-19 vaccination or receive a weekly test for the virus. All six of Macau’s licensees have introduced the same measures in an effort to limit the spread of infection.
In an internal memo seen by Inside Asian Gaming, one Macau concessionary explained the measures to its staff. It said that if unvaccinated employees fail to provide a negative coronavirus test result then they are unable to work. Not only that, but the operator will consider this an “unjustified absence” and take “disciplinary action.”
Aiming for low cases and high vaccinations
In the whole of the COVID-19 pandemic, Macau’s casinos have only closed for around two weeks in March 2020. If they want to remain open this time around, it is clear they will have to prevent the virus from spreading within their walls. Macau CEO Ho Iat Seng previously confirmed that casinos will close if officials link them to any new outbreaks.
One way the concessionaries are hoping to prevent this is through an increased focus on vaccinations. Macau currently has a zero COVID-19 policy, meaning the government must react to even a single positive test result. However, officials have confirmed that this measure can end once 80% of the population has received their full vaccination doses.
Sadly for casinos, the Special Adminstrative Region (SAR) of China has a particularly low vaccination rate. Only around 59% of Macau’s residents have received their inoculations for coronavirus. The new employee vaccination policy is the latest effort by casino operators to increase this number. They also ran vaccination drives earlier in the year.
The government had an emergency meeting with the six concessionaires in May when the region’s vaccination rate was as low as 14%. The casino operators subsequently established vaccination hubs for staff and their families. The government calculated that around 10,000 people received their jabs in this drive.
Some restrictions about to ease
Other than new employee requirements implemented by operators, Macau also currently has a number of other COVID-19 restrictions in place. These mainly include restrictions on travel, with a new mandatory 14-day quarantine for Beijing travelers added this week. It’s not all bad news however, with some other restrictions set to ease very soon.
easing local lockdown zones
This week, Macau’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center announced that it will begin easing local lockdown zones in the SAR. Officials implemented the system earlier this month, with certain areas designated red and others yellow. Those in the red districts can not leave and must undergo tests, while yellow zones require citizens to take a test within 24 hours and self-monitor for 14 days.
Authorities said the areas currently subject to these rules will regain their freedom between October 15 and 18 as long as all residents return a negative COVID-19 test.