The 41 casinos in Macau are to reportedly be temporarily shuttered for a 15-day period from midnight local time tonight as the city attempts to counter the ‘Wuhan virus’ outbreak that has so far killed over 420 people in neighboring China.

According to a report from GGRAsia, the move was announced by the enclave’s Economy and Finance Secretary, Lei Wai Nong, earlier today before being confirmed via a dispatch from the office of Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng. The interim closure is to also purportedly apply to all local cinemas, nightclubs, arcades and other ‘places of entertainment’ but will not involve hotels and restaurants.

Deadly disorder:

First recorded in the Chinese city of Wuhan in early-December, ‘Wuhan virus’ is a coronavirus strain that causes pneumonia-like symptoms such as high fevers and coughs. It has so far been contracted by some 20,700 people in locations as distant as the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom and has even led to single fatalities in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Operator oath:

Lei reportedly detailed that every one of Macau’s six licensed casino firms, which include the local Sands China Limited and Wynn Macau Limited subordinates of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Wynn Resorts Limited respectively, have pledged to continue paying employee salaries over the course of the 15-day closure and not ask workers to take unpaid leave.

Reportedly read a statement from Lei…

“This is only a closure on the gaming venues of the tourism complex. Hotels and food and beverage venues can still continue, considering there are still visitors there and we have sufficient risk control measures.”

Increasing incidence:

GGRAsia reported that Macau’s decision to briefly close its casinos comes after local health officials revealed that the city had recorded its tenth confirmed case of ‘Wuhan virus’. The patient is purportedly a 59-year-old bus driver employed by SJM Holdings Limited to ferry visitors from various border points to the local casino operator’s Casino Grand Lisboa and Casino Oceanus properties.

However, Leong Iek Hou from the Macau Health Bureau reportedly sought to assuage any outbreak fears by revealing that the male sufferer is thought to have contracted the potentially lethal ailment while making a private visit to China’s neighboring Guangdong Province a little over a week ago.

Border back-track:

GGRAsia moreover reported that Ho had earlier declared that his administration did not intend to ‘close border checkpoints’ because doing so would adversely impact the many people who live in China but travel into Macau for work. He purportedly stated that these channels were furthermore necessary to keep the city supplied with food and that he expected the spread of ‘Wuhan virus’ to peak within the next ‘seven to ten days.’

But, Ho has now seemingly altered this stance after reportedly announcing that the enclave is to suspend all ferry services between Macau and Hong Kong from this evening, which is a move that is to leave the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge as the only direct way to travel between the two cities.

Reduced returns:

Brokerage firm Sanford C Bernstein Limited reportedly reacted to the 15-day closure news by explaining that the move is expected to lead to a 50% comparable drop in Macau’s first-quarter aggregated gross gaming revenues to around $4.7 billion. The enterprise purportedly additionally pronounced that ‘the first quarter is obviously going to show awful results’ but that the eventual figure could decline by over 70% year-on-year to approximately $2.8 billion ‘if casinos were to remain closed for the rest of the first quarter.’

A statement from Sanford C Bernstein Limited reportedly read…

“Casinos have already been closing restaurants and other services over the past several days in light of tepid customer visitation. Assuming only a two-week shutdown followed by some soft business resuming in late-February and March, the first quarter could show gross gaming revenues year-on-year decline of 50%.”

Annual deterioration:

Rival investments firm JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Limited used its own note to predict an even steeper 75% year-on-year diminution in Macau’s aggregated gross gaming revenues for February to only around $700 million. It purportedly moreover projected that this could push the resultant figure for the whole of 2020 down ‘by approximately 6%’ to something in the region of 2017’s finishing tally of $33.2 billion.