March 24, 2020 / 2:44 AM / in 10 days

Macau sets new coronavirus curbs for China, Hong Kong visitors

FILE PHOTO: Men wear masks as they walk in front of the Ruins of St. Paulis, following the novel coronavirus outbreak, in Macau, China February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The world’s biggest gambling hub of Macau will ban entry from Wednesday for visitors from mainland China, neighbouring Hong Kong and Taiwan who have travelled overseas in the previous 14 days, as it battles a coronavirus pandemic.

Macau has 25 infections and visitors from the Greater China region make up more than 90% of its tourists. Last week it had banned foreign visitors and foreign non-resident workers, while exempting those from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

People who have not travelled abroad in the past two weeks also face 14 days of quarantine, Ho Iat Seng, the leader of the former Portuguese colony, said on Tuesday.

“The government assures all Macau citizens it will do a good job in epidemic prevention at any cost,” Ho added.

Although Macau’s casinos have reopened after a two-week suspension in February, revenues have plummeted by almost 90 percent, hit by visit curbs and health regulations.

Visitors to Macau dropped 96 percent in February on the year, while its government slashed a forecast for annual gross gaming revenue by 56%, to 130 billion patacas ($16.3 billion), from 260 billion estimated last year.

More than 80 percent of Macau’s revenue comes from casinos. Operators Wynn Macau, Sands China, MGM China, Melco Resorts, SJM Holdings and Galaxy Entertainment are all bleeding between $1.5 million and $4 million a day to keep their properties running.

Analysts expect March gambling revenue to fall up to 80 percent.

($1=7.9920 patacas)

Reporting by Donny Kwok and Farah Master; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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