Macau’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center has announced that guests will no longer be required to show a negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test result in order to enter any of the city’s casinos.
Removal of the mandatory test requirement, which takes effect as of Wednesday 3 March, comes eight months after it was implemented in July 2020 when quarantine requirements for those entering Macau from Guangdong Province were first lifted.
According to the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center, the decision was made due to mainland China having now reached 24 days without any new local transmission of COVID-19, and the fact that other preventative measures remain in place. Visitors from mainland China are still required to obtain a negative test result before entering Macau, while casinos will retain other preventative measures such as the green health code system, mandatory face masks, social distancing and barriers between players.
JP Morgan analysts DS Kim and Derek Choi said in a Tuesday note that while the change is largely symbolic in nature given that mainland visitors still need a negative test result to enter Macau, it should encourage the return of some locals.
“The change will help revive demand from local Macanese, which have been nearly absent since mid-July when the COVID test requirement was introduced for casino entry,” they write.
“We guestimate locals account for only low single digits of pre-COVID GGR (and higher for operators like SJM), and we acknowledge the news itself isn’t very meaningful. But it’s the thought that counts – this, similar to the removal of high-risk areas in China last week, probably signals the governments (Macau and Beijing) are increasingly comfortable on easing COVID-related restrictions from here, in our view. We view the news as directionally positive.”
Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau this week reported gross gaming revenue of MOP$7.31 billion in February – lower in total than January GGR but actually representing a 0.7% higher average daily revenue given February was three days shorter than January.