The Macau SAR Government is staying non-committal on whether the city’s gaming industry will resume normal operations on 20 February.
The Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, stated that the government is continuing to evaluate the development of the Coronavirus while maintaining regular contact with the Health Bureau and Macau’s six gaming concessionaires to discuss the re-opening of casinos.
“We have to evaluate the overall situation cautiously and arrange relevant work in considering the re-opening of casinos,” Lei said at a press conference on Thursday.
The city’s economy is facing a rare challenge with the closure of Macau’s 41 casinos for 15 days and tight border restrictions as a result of the Coronavirus, now officially known as COVID-19, causing a mass decline in tourist numbers. The government has also urged residents to stay home with many local shops and businesses closing their doors in compliance with the government’s call.
In order to stimulate the economy, the government on Thursday announced a MOP$27 billion revitalization scheme, including a MOP$2.2 million domestic consumption plan. The consumption plan will see all Macau residents receive a MOP$3,000 e-voucher to be spent on local businesses within the next three months.
Several taxes on Macau’s tourism industries will be exempted or deducted, with a 5% tourism tax on hotels, clubs, gyms and karaoke clubs to be exempted for six months, while a license tax for business vehicles such as taxis and hotel chauffeurs will be refunded.
For residents, utility fees from March to May will be exempted, while the housing tax, professional tax and complementary tax will be deducted. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which have operated for at least two years can apply for financial support of up to MOP$600,000 without interest.
Meanwhile, the government will issue its annual cash-sharing scheme earlier than usual. Permanent residents will receive a MOP$10,000 cash grant and non-permanent residents MOP$6,000 in April.
The revitalization measures are expected to cost around MOP$20 billion and the cash-sharing scheme around MOP$700 million.
In more positive news for Macau, the third of 10 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the SAR has recovered and been discharged from hospital.