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Macau Shuts Casinos as City Enters Weeklong Lockdown

Residents lined up to get tested for the coronavirus in Macau last week.



HONG KONG—The gambling enclave of Macau will enter a citywide lockdown early Monday, as authorities seek to contain a spiraling Covid-19 outbreak.

Aside from essential services such as supermarkets, healthcare facilities and restaurants selling takeaway, all other businesses have been ordered to shut for a week, with residents required to stay at home. City officials urged the public not to panic-buy food, asking people to make purchases at staggered times to enable social distancing in queues.

The order, issued Saturday by the territory’s chief executive, Ho Iat-seng, comes as Macau struggles to contain an outbreak that had already shuttered venues such as cinemas, salons and swimming pools. The Chinese gambling hub has recorded hundreds of cases in recent weeks, its worst-ever outbreak after keeping to China’s zero-Covid strategy for most of the pandemic.

Previously, Mr. Ho had said that shutting down all casinos “would affect many employees,” and as such the city’s more than 40 casinos had been allowed to continue operations. Macau relies on the gambling sector for much of its economic growth and employment.

Macau has a population of about 650,000. Throughout the pandemic, it has maintained strict Covid-containment measures. At one point, quarantine for travelers from what it deemed very high-risk countries was as long as 28 days.

The lockdown order specified that all adults who needed to leave their homes would be required to wear masks of KN95-standard or above. Those who violated that order could be subject to jail time.

Write to Natasha Khan at [email protected]

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