Subsequent to the change in Macau’s epidemic prevention policy, the city is suffering a major community outbreak, with the government estimating over 100,000 people have been infected — although anecdotal evidence suggests the number is much higher. Due to the large number of infected people, many enterprises have had to suspend their operations. Some concessionaire staff have described Macau as “barely operating.”
As for the hospitality industry, IR companies are reporting to IAG that as many as 50% of their frontline staff are infected, leading to the closure of most restaurants and entire towers and/or floors of many hotels. Some properties have even stopped accepting guests altogether.
IAG visited the Cotai Strip on Saturday and found the crowds to be very light. The famous Venetian retail shopping mall was very poorly patronized, with some restaurants closed due to staff infection. The same was true for commercial venues on the Macau peninsula, with some shops in the One Central mall next to MGM Macau having to close due to staff infection.
As for casinos, many frontline staff were infected and there were not enough dealers to operate casino floors, so many tables had to be closed. Due to the epidemic, many of the casinos have not seen much traffic.
An employee of a casino in Cotai, who asked not to be named, told IAG that “more than half of the staff in the casino tables department are infected, so the company can only arrange for those who are not infected to work, and they need to work as much as possible.”
However, the employee pointed out that “even if all the non-infected staff were to work, the number of frontline staff would still be too small to cover the opening of all the gaming tables, so the company has to reduce the number of tables.”
An employee at a hotel in central Macau also said the same situation had occurred at the hotel. “Many of my colleagues were infected at almost the same time, and they all became aware of the infection during the week.”
The employee said, “I was confirmed to be infected myself three days ago, and my family members have also been infected, so I can’t go to work at all, otherwise I will spread the infection to my non-infected colleagues.”
In December, the Macau government changed its epidemic prevention policy from “zero-COVID” to “coexisting with the virus” and is quickly opening up to the rest of the world. There is now no need to quarantine upon entry to Macau from anywhere in the world.
Macau seems to be becoming in line with the rest of the world, declaring the end of the epidemic like any other city, but the policy has changed so quickly it has been difficult for Macau citizens and businesses to adapt.
A gaming industry source told IAG that while he was happy to see Macau finally open up to the outside world, the pace of opening up seemed to be “a little too fast and beyond the expectations of businesses.
“There is now a massive infection, and it’s happening so fast that the public is even fearful, which seems to be more than anyone expected and has thwarted many companies’ original plans for December.
“We can only hope for a real recovery in the second half of January, once the people of Macau have become accustomed to living with the virus.”