Macao extends lockdown to curb biggest COVID-19 outbreak

Grand Lisboa, center, is closed in Macao, on Monday.

HONG KONG (AP) — The Chinese gambling enclave of Macao on Saturday extended its lockdown by five days as it grapples with the biggest outbreak of the coronavirus in over two years.

Authorities said that industries and commercial companies will remain closed until July 23. The lockdown, which began July 11, had initially been set to expire Sunday.

As part of the lockdown, authorities have suspended dine-in services and ordered all residents to avoid leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary. Those who need to go out must wear KN95 masks or similar.

The city, which has a population of 680,000, recorded 31 infections on Friday. Since its latest outbreak that began June 18, the city has reported some 1,700 infections.

The government also said in a separate statement that it would allocate 10 billion patacas ($1.24 billion) as handouts for businesses affected by the outbreak.

Casinos, which are the city’s largest employers and the main income generator for the government, were initially allowed to operate in spite of the flare in cases in June but have since been ordered to close as part of the lockdown last week.