PHILIPPINES CASINOS FACE WARNING OF STRICTER LOCKDOWN FOR AUGUST
By Derek Tonin
Before Manila-area casinos have any hope of reopening, and definitely before they have a hope of returning to strong revenues, the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) likely has to come to an end. Nobody knows exactly when that day is going to come, but new comments from the President’s office suggest it may be even further off than anyone could have guessed.
Rather than loosening restrictions, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines’s Pinky Webb that it’s a distinct possibility that, if the Philippines should reach 85,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 by the end of the month, Manila will reenter Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ):
“That’s a distinct possibility, although it’s a possibility that I wish would not happen because we all know that while we have to contain the disease, we also need to re-start our livelihoods ‘no.”
That possibility is looking very real. After relaxing to its current level of quarantine, the country has surged past the 60,000 confirmed cases mark remarkably quickly, leading forecasters to update their projections to the feared 85,000 mark for the end of July.
While Roque insisted that the Philippines strategy to combat Covid-19 is working, he had to parry criticism that the country’s Covid curve hasn’t flattened at all. Hospitals are entirely full with Covid-19 patients, and a lack of testing in many areas mean the true size of the spread is still not entirely known.
A return to an ECQ would mean most non-essential businesses would be forced to close their doors once again, and that’s exactly what Manila’s casinos hope doesn’t happen. Still not allowed to accept customers, casinos in the Entertainment City district of the capital are still posting hopefully on social media, inviting customers to come back when its safe.
Manila’s casinos have been closed for over five months now, and while staying busy with some charity efforts and take out meals, the cash reserves must be starting to run pretty low.
Okada has had to lay off more than 1,000 staff in May, after teasing customers that they could be reopening at any day at that point. Meanwhile, Solaire Resort & Casino has seen profits drop by 38%, and a new VIP room is patiently waiting for quarantines to be relaxed before construction can proceed.