A new year could be a new start for Macau. The special administrative region (SAR) is set to receive it’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccines just in time for Chinese New Year.
The gambling mecca will receive 100,000 doses from the China National Pharmaceutical Group to start. Plans are being made to roll out the vaccine. More doses are expected to arrive later in the month, and then another batch in Q3.
“We are negotiating with the suppliers so that the vaccine arrive as fast as possible. Vaccination is not just purchasing the doses, we still need to conduct many preparatory works. Establish appointments, registry, etc […] We will start vaccination around the CNY period,” Conde S. Januario Hospital Doctor, Alvis Lo Iek Long said in today’s pandemic update press conference.
Vaccines are optional, and those who receive shots will have a choice of which vaccine they prefer, but there is a priority system. Front line health personnel, high occupational exposure groups and those who need to visit high-risk areas are at the front of the line, with casino workers in this group due to their exposure to the public.
Although the first shots are expected to go into arms right around the long New Year weekend, it’s a little too late to save Macau from another bummer, revenue wise. “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,” said Union Gaming’s John DeCree.
With China keeping cross-province travel restricted to prevent further outbreaks, nobody is expecting anything great for the month of February. Credit Suisse forecasts revenues 20% below the October Golden Week. “Travel impediments will lead certainly to reduced visitation (vs earlier forecasts) into Macau for the next few weeks at least, with Chinese New Year visitation being impacted,” Bernstein analysts added. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s no telling how far away it may be. “In the long run, we expect the offshore gambling crackdown could accrue to Macau’s benefit; but for now, the ambiguity of the new law will likely continue to deter some VIP customers and limit junket operations in Macau,” Decree added.