In the Philippines, the government recently decided to close gaming facilities, including casinos, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. It was recommended that the COVID-19 alert level in Manila move from 2 to 3, as positive cases are on the rise. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recommended that change.
The new alert level will remain effective through January 15, 2022. The task force is predicting that there will be an additional increase in cases over the next few days due to holiday gatherings. It is also believed that decreased compliance connected to public health measures played a role in the increase. Manila is the only area that will go to Level 3.
Shutting Down Specific Activities
The change to Level 3 shuts down several activities that are considered high-risk, including casinos gaming, horse racing, betting shops, lottery shops, and other establishments connected to gaming. Only the president and task force can allow activities to take place.
According to Inside Asian Gaming, integrated resort operators in Manila said they are waiting for further guidance as to what they can and cannot do. It is expected that the venues will not be allowed to offer any services during the time period.
Additional activities are banned including sports, clubs, theaters, karaoke bars, carnivals, and even household gatherings involving anyone that is not from that household. Indoor spaces are to operate at 30% indoors and outdoor at 50% within MICE venues, along with funerals, weddings, libraries, galleries, arcades, etc.
Karlo Nograles, the Cabinet Secretary, stated that there was an exponential rise within the past few days due to holiday gatherings. It was also noted that minimum public health standards may have been disregarded. Omicron variant positive cases were also detected among those affected.
Other Temporary Closures
This is not the first time that casinos in Manila closed temporarily. Back in August, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that casinos in the metropolitan area that venues were closing for a short period of time. The closure marked the third time in 17 months that casinos were unable to operate and a rise in positive coronavirus cases.
Casinos involved in the closure included Solaire Resort and Casino, Resorts World Manila, Okada Manila, and City of Dreams Manila. The Philippines is a heavily populated area, with over 109 million people living in the country. Manila is the capital city and home to a large collection of the population.
Hopefully, this closure will only last through mid-January as expected and casinos will be operational once again in just a few days.