Omicron Begins to Affect Macau Casino Industry
The Omicron variant has entered Macau, with the global gaming hub expected to be affected by the virus in some manner.
The Omicron variant is a form of COVID-19 that is hitting countries around the world at a rapid pace. Just when we thought some sense of normalcy might return to our everyday lives, a new variant rears its ugly head. For the casino industry, omicron may become an issue due to lack of employees or patrons due to sickness. Macau, the busy gambling city of Asia, has been able to avoid major outbreaks of COVID-19 but has been affected by low tourism numbers. Now it seems the omicron variant has arrived in the special administrative region, though it is too early to tell what the outcome will be.
Positive Cases Emerge
A local resident returned to Macau on December 25 after traveling from the United States and laid over from Singapore. The traveler was a student and arrived back in the SAR with the virus. The individual did not know that they had contracted the virus due to being asymptomatic.
One day later, he started to feel sick and tested positive for the virus. The same day he tested positive for Omicron. The traveler did test while in the US before returning as a precaution and the test showed up negative.
Macau has always been strict when it comes to COVID-19, so it is not surprising to find that the region is being cautious with this new case. The country continues to test on a regular basis so that a large-scale outbreak can be avoided. The region is an island, so if the virus got out of control, it could cause major issues regarding the health of residents.
So far, the region has seen less than 100 cases of COVID-19. It might be the least affected region in the world just because of the way the virus was handled. However, the area has paid the price as far as its casino operations are concerned. With less visitors to the SAR, the amount of revenues from casino gaming as well as hotel stays remains flat.
Quarantine-Free Travel at Risk
For Macau, the region relies on travel from mainland China and Hong Kong. For quite some time, travel restrictions kept visitors from traveling to Macau, which decreased the ability for the casinos to reach its normal travel numbers.
Hong Kong is not dealing well with the omicron variant, and it will most likely cause issues regarding quarantine travel in the future. By 2022, mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau were supposed to offer quarantine-free travel. It was expected that people would be able to travel between the regions and not have to quarantine.
This would have boosted the casino visitors to Macau and helped the bottom line reach higher numbers. However, with the new positive cases of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, it is highly unlikely that the quarantine element will be removed, at least for now.
It also begs the question if the virus will continue to be an issue in other areas, such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Already in Canada, casinos are shutting down or cutting back on capacity levels in order to avoid major outbreaks. Will the same happen in the UK and US if the virus continues to gain ground?
Hopefully, the virus will not reach massive numbers like it has in the past and casinos will remain open for the most part. It would be nice to see the virus go away completely so we can enjoy our lives as normal without worrying about catching the virus or giving it to others.