Macau Vaccines Come Too Late To Save It From Another Bummer

Image by Ivan Diaz
Article by : Helen Feb 25, 2021

A new year is a new start — that’s what we all are used to think when making our plans for the upcoming year. Macau was also keeping hope to get back to normal life in the new year. The special administrative region (SAR) expects to get the first bunch of COVID-19 vaccines before Chinese New Year. The China National Pharmaceutical Group plans to send 100,000 vaccine doses to the gambling mecca. There will be one more batch of vaccines at the end of February, and the next one will come in the third quarter.

We are negotiating with the suppliers so that the vaccine arrives as fast as possible. Vaccination is not just purchasing the doses, we still need to conduct many preparatory works. Establish appointments, registry, etc.

Alvis Lo Iek Long, the doctor at Conde S. Januario Hospital

Overall, the vaccination is optional, with nobody being forced to get shots against their will. Those who decide to take a vaccine will have a chance to decide which one they want to get. However, there is a priority system, with the first vaccine doses going to healthcare workers, older people, police officers, and other groups of people who are at high risk of getting infected. Casino dealers are also at the front of the line since they fall under the “high occupational exposure” group. After the first-priority groups get vaccinated around the Lunar New Year, public registration for vaccination will open.

Since there is still no Phase 3 data on the vaccine, many people may not be 100% confident in it. In light of this fact, Lei Chin, Macau Health Bureau Director, decided to get the first shot himself to show his faith in the vaccine.

Even though vaccination is expected to start around the Chinese New Year period, gaming analysts and experts claim that Macau should not wait for a quick rebound in the first half of the year. “With a number of isolated COVID cases throughout China and the region, we expect travel will remain moderate over the coming months, including during the Chinese New Year (CNY) period,” pointed out John DeCree.

Since cross-province travel remains restricted in China, there is almost no chance for Macau to see a big travel jump in February. “While it seems that the worst is behind us for now, we are maintaining our more neutral outlook on Macau overall until we have more visibility on the pace and magnitude of the recovery and concession renewals,” added John DeCree. Bernstein analysts also believe that VIP play will be limited in the coming months due to the nonvanishing travel restrictions. They expect a 20% of the VIP volume during the Chinese New Year, compared to the previous October Golden Week holidays.

On the other hand, DeCree believes that current China’s travel policy will work to Macau’s benefit in the long-term period of time. Since overseas gambling has been prohibited in China, analysts expect VIP customers to return to Macau over time. Overall, the latest analysts’ predictions do not seem to be promising. They expect February GGR to be 65% less than the result recorded in February 2019. Anyway, it’s still going to be a year-over-year improvement, as February 2020 turned out to be a total disaster for Macau’s gambling industry, with most local gambling facilities being closed for more than 2 weeks.


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