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COVID-19: ‘social distancing’ rule shuts down casino games around the globe

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COVID-19: ‘social distancing’ rule shuts down casino games around the globe

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been overwhelming across all spectrums of life. Due to restriction of movements, social distancing’ rule, fear, among others. The social distancing’ rule has put a pressure on the tourism sub-sector operating amid a widespread shutdown of entertainment and sporting events as authorities limit public gatherings to curtail the spread of the illness.


Australia

As a result, the Australia’s two biggest casino companies said they would shut off half their poker machines to force gamblers to engage in “social distancing” and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Casino companies already have reported a pinch in their businesses targeting wealthy tourists from Asia, known as VIPs, due to travel restrictions related to the coronavirus. Melbourne-based Crown Resorts, which is 37 per cent owned by billionaire James Packer, and Sydney rival Star Entertainment Group said they would keep gamblers apart by switching off every second electronic machine.

They said they would also restrict the number of players at gambling tables. The two companies are licensed to operate a total of over 4,000 machines mostly in Sydney and Melbourne. Crown also said it would restrict the number of people in individual conference or restaurant spaces to 450 people, while Star said it would limit the number of people to 500.

The Australian government has advised against non-essential gatherings of over 500 people. Crown said its “social distancing policy” was approved by the chief health officer of Victoria state, while Star said its measures were in line with Federal Government policy.

According to Philip Russo, president of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control, the measure taken by the companies was a minimum requirement. “It will likely slow down spread, but more stringent social distancing would have a greater effect,” he added in an email.

In Las Vegas, casino giant Wynn Resorts Ltd said it would close completely for two weeks due to the virus amid a broad rush of U.S. government and entertainment facilities shuttering amid the pandemic.

 

Nigeria

There is not yet a shutdown announced in Nigeria as Nigerians are still seen indulging in all kinds of online gambling activities such as the popular betway live casino games. Some of the players in a telephone chat argue that this is a way to keep themselves busy and this does not  breach the social distancing rule. Notwithstanding, Nigeria has over 1000 officially confirmed cases of COVID-19 that are imported and community spread.

 

Cambodia

But in Cambodia, the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said the nation’s casinos would be closed starting on Wednesday and rice exports would stop by Sunday in response to the coronavirus pandemic, state media reported.

Recently, as Cambodia’s total Covid-19 infections topped 100 cases, the premier said the government was weighing whether to declare a state of emergency, but as of yet, no national lockdown has been announced.

The South-East Asian nation’s casino sector has boomed in recent years, spurred by Chinese investment in the south-western coastal province of Preah Sihanouk.

However, growth in the industry took a hit at the end of 2019 when the government stopped licensing online gambling businesses, many of which set up shop inside casinos.

State media outlet AKP reported Cambodia confirmed 107 Covid-19 cases since January, over half of which are foreign nationals.

Some 23 people have recovered from respiratory disease. According to AKP Hun Sen, who has led the country for 35 years, said, the halt on rice exports, a key agricultural crop, was intended to ensure local food security during the pandemic.

 

Macau (Hong Kong)

On Tuesday, Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub, said it had asked all casino operators to suspend operations for two weeks to help curb the spread of the virus.

In another announcement that will compound worries about the economic impact, Hyundai Motor said it would gradually suspend production at its South Korean factories because of supply chain disruptions from the outbreak.

The Hong Kong death took to 427 the toll from the virus, including a man who died in the Philippines last week after visiting Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the epicentre of the outbreak.

Chinese authorities said the toll in China rose by a record 64 from the previous day to 425, mostly in Hubei, the virtually locked down province whose capital is Wuhan.

New cases were reported in the U.S., including a patient in California infected through close contact with someone in the same household who had been infected in China.

It was the second instance of person-to-person spread in the U.S. after a case reported last week in Illinois.

“We expect to see more cases of person-to-person spread,” said Dr Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Centre for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The total number of infections in China rose by 3,235 to 20,438, and there were at least 151 cases in 23 other countries and regions.

 

World Health Organisation (WHO)

WHO has declared the flu-like virus a global emergency and experts say much is still unknown about the pathogen, including its mortality rate and transmission routes.

Such uncertainties have spurred extreme measures by some countries to stem the spread.

Australia sent hundreds of evacuees from Wuhan to a remote island in the Indian Ocean, while Japan ordered the quarantine of a cruise ship with more than 3,000 aboard, after a Hong Kong man who sailed on it last month tested positive for the virus.

The Asian financial centre has confirmed 15 cases of the virus and its public hospital network is struggling to cope with a deluge of patients and measures to contain the epidemic.

Hong Kong was badly hit by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus that emerged from China in 2002 to kill almost 800 people worldwide.

WHO figures show SARS killed 299 people in Hong Kong then. Chinese data suggest that the new virus, while much more contagious than SARS, is significantly less lethal, although such numbers can evolve rapidly.

The U.S. said on Friday it would block nearly all foreign visitors who have been to China within the past 14 days, joining Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Vietnam and others with similar restrictions.

China accused the U.S. on Monday of scaremongering and said on Tuesday it would welcome its help to fight the outbreak. The White House said China had accepted its offer of U.S. experts among a WHO mission to study and help combat the virus.

Airlines have stopped flights to parts of China. A suspension by the United Arab Emirates on Monday will affect the Gulf airlines Etihad and Emirates. Some economists predict world economic output will shrink by 0.2 to 0.3 percentage points due to China’s lockdown.

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