The casino hub of Macau will give residents money to keep its economy going during the coronavirus pandemicby Isaac Scher
- Macau, a semi-autonomous Chinese state, hopes to revitalize its economy after the coronavirus outbreak subsides.
- It will give permanent residents the equivalent of $US375 each in a bid to keep local businesses afloat.
- “The intention is to help enterprises survive through consumption,” said Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai-nong.
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Macau will give permanent residents 2.2 billion patacas, equivalent to $US274.9 million, to boost its economy once the deadly coronavirus outbreak subsides, according to officials.
Macau, the semi-autonomous Chinese state southwest of Hong Kong also known as the casino hub of the world, has not been visited by good luck lately, fielding a two-week shutdown on its primary industry that went into effect February 4 to ward against COVID-19.
The government’s relief measures are intended to keep local businesses afloat, said Lei Wai-nong, the secretary for economy and finance.
“When the coronavirus outbreak is over, the government will invest around 2.2 billion patacas in vouchers to revitalize consumption,” Lei told South China Morning Post. The city-state’s permanent residents will be given pre-loaded cards with 3,000 patacas each.
“It can be used for catering, retail or groceries, but only in Macau,” Lei said. “The intention is to help enterprises survive through consumption.”
The cards, valid for three months, have a transaction cap of 300 patacas, meaning they must be used at least 10 times.
“I hope the consumption will benefit medium and small-sized enterprises,” Lei said.
In addition to boosted spending, Macau authorities will distribute to each resident an extra medical coupon worth 600 patacas ($US75) apiece and are valid through 2020.
Mainland China has seen a considerable uptick in the spread of COVID-19. On Friday, authorities reported 5,090 new cases and 121 new deaths. A total of 63,851 people have been infected and at least 1,380 have died.
In semi-autonomous Macau, however, officials have been able to contain the virus. Ten people have contracted the virus, and three are since cured. The city has not confirmed a new coronavirus case in nine days.
After discovering that a Macau hotel worker contracted COVID-19, the city suspended casino operations for 15 days on February 4. It also shut down 18 other related businesses, including bars, massage parlors, and movie theatres. Macau’s 41 casinos employ more than 57,000 full-time workers, according to official figures from 2018.
The government’s response to the coronavirus was critical to stemming an outbreak, said Macau Health Bureau Director Lei Chin-ion. When the first case was confirmed, the city implemented a ration on surgical masks to prevent residents from rapidly decreasing supply. Each resident was allowed to purchase up to 10 masks every 10 days.
“We need to keep it up,” Lei told South China Morning Post. “The number of cases in Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and other cities in Guangdong province are increasing. We need to be careful.”
“We are setting up the production line for masks through a local team,” added Ao Ieong Iu, the secretary for social affairs and culture. “We hope in the fourth round of the government’s mask rationing, the new production line will be able to provide masks to Macau residents.”
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