CE: Casino suspension aims to advance control of novel coronavirus

The Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, announces in a press conference latest measures to control spreading of the novel coronavirus.

The Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, today said the Government has decided to suspend casino operations – and operation of other entertainment facilities – for 15 days, after thorough evaluations regarding developments in the novel coronavirus episode in Macao.

Mr Ho announced the measures during a press conference held in the early afternoon at the Government Headquarters. Macao had today announced two new cases of people being infected by the novel coronavirus. Both involved Macao residents.

According to Executive Order 27/2020 published today in the Macao SAR Gazette, gaming operations at all casino premises in Macao, and operations at all entertainment facilities across the city will be suspended with effect from the stroke of midnight today. The city has a total of 41 licensed casino premises.

The 15-day suspension will also cover the following facilities: cinemas, theatres, indoor playgrounds, game centres, Internet cafes, billiard rooms, bowling alleys, steam baths, massage parlours, beauty salons, fitness centres, health clubs, karaoke premises, bars, nightclubs, discotheques, and dance halls.

Mr Ho had a meeting later in the afternoon – following the early-afternoon press conference – with representatives of Macao’s six gaming concessionaires and sub-concessionaries. The Government called on the gaming operators to shoulder further social responsibilities and make appropriate arrangements with employees for the suspension period.

In the press conference, the Chief Executive announced the Government would itself in the short term maintain services on an emergency basis: non-essential public services would be suspended during the period 5 February to 7 February, inclusive.

Mr Ho appealed to the local business sector to suspend commercial activities where possible, in order to minimise situations of people gathering in groups, something that could potentially increase the risk of the coronavirus spreading in the community.

Mr Ho urged members of the public to remain at home and to avoid unnecessary outings. He also asked those seeking medical treatment at hospitals to disclose to medical professionals full details of their relevant history. Taking such care was the responsibility of all Macao residents in order to combat the novel coronavirus episode.

When speaking to reporters, the Chief Executive passed on advice relayed by the head of a high-level expert team of the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Mr Zhong Nanshan. The medical expert had told Mr Ho – in the most recent exchange between the two – that the peak of the disease might emerge in the coming eight to 10 days. The best way to protect oneself from infection was to stay at home and avoid going out, the medical expert had told Mr Ho.

Once the disease was tackled, the Government had plans to revitalise Macao’s economy in the aftermath, said Mr Ho. One such initiative might be a greater number of infrastructure projects, with a view to spurring domestic economic consumption and securing employment opportunities for local residents.

Mr Ho went on to say that Macao had sufficient financial reserve to ride out any difficulty wrought by the novel coronavirus outbreak, including the possible deficit that might emerge in the Government’s accounts for the current fiscal year.

The Chief Executive gave the assurance that Macao had sufficient supplies of fresh produce, other food, and other basic goods. Regarding protective face masks, the Government would continue to acquire – at any necessary cost and if necessary via global sourcing such as by air freight from European countries and the United States of America – such items. The Government would engage in all-out effort in order to ensure supply to the Macao public of face masks – for adults and children – and disinfection agents, Mr Ho added.

In the press conference, the Chief Executive expressed his gratitude to those working round the clock – including medical professionals, police, and customs service officials – as part of Macao’s fight against the coronavirus disease episode.

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