Published on Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Macau orders closure of all casinos

Stock prices of casino operators in Asia and the US fell again after the Macau government took the unprecedented step to close all casinos for at least two weeks.

Macau chief executive Ho Iat-seng warned closures could be extended if the coronavirus continues to spread.

Macau now has 10 confirmed cases, including a casino worker.

"This is a difficult decision, but we have to do it for the health of our residents," he told reporters at a press conference.

Gaming is by far the dominant industry in the former Portuguese colony of just 600,000 residents.

It attracts about 35 million visitors annually, of which the vast majority are from the Mainland.

All 41 casinos will close as well as cinemas, bars, and nightclubs.

Gaming stocks took another tumble after being hammered since the outbreak. The number of visitors to Macau is down a massive 80% over the past week.

Ho said there are no plans yet to close the border crossing to Mainland China but there could be more restrictions if the outbreak continues to spread.

Ho also advised residents to restrict the time they spend outdoors.

"Don't go on the streets if not necessary. I hope everyone will wear a mask no matter where you go, supermarkets or wet markets. Don't be careless. Don't take it lightly," he said.

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