Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has extended Luzon’s enhanced community quarantine until 30 April, with all non-essential services, including casinos, now set to remain closed to further prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to state-run Philippines News Agency, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles confirmed on Tuesday that Duterte has approved a recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to extend the closure, originally enforced for a period of one month to 12 April 2020.
Nograles said it had been agreed that 12 April was too early for medical experts to accurately assess whether the rate of infection had slowed, and to allow time to launch mass testing for COVID-19, due to begin from 14 April.
“The reason why we are asking for an extension up to April 30 is to measure the full effect of the ECQ and to increase the health capacity of Luzon and the whole country,” he said.
In response to questions from Inside Asian Gaming on how the extension would impact Luzon’s gaming operations – including PAGCOR properties and casino-resorts in Manila’s Entertainment City and the Clark Freeport Zone – PAGCOR said it “abides by the government’s decision to keep only the essential establishments open during the extended enhanced community quarantine. Thus, the country-wide suspension of casino operations continues.”
The gaming regulator added that it has been “reaching out to medical front-liners and communities by providing medical equipment and supplies and food packs. The Entertainment City casino licensees and the POGOs are our partners in this mission.”
PAGCOR revealed earlier this week that it had recently delivered more than 47,000 food packs purchased by Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) to communities in the National Capital Region, while Entertainment City licensees have donated over Php200 million (US$4 million) to relief efforts.
PAGCOR itself has donated more than Php20 billion (US$400 million), split between the National Treasury and the Socio-Civic Projects Fund of the Office of the President.