- »Morrison Orders Aussie Casinos Closed Due to COVID-19
Morrison Orders Aussie Casinos Closed Due to COVID-19
Last week, we reported that many casinos around Australia were remaining open in some form. They were all taking precautions and implementing new measures to cooperate with Australian government requests and suggestions from health officials.
Casinos cancelled poker tournaments. They turned off every other slot machine to keep customers at a distance from each other. They implemented other changes at table games to help maintain social distancing. Some casinos closed for several hours each day to conduct thorough cleanings. They provided hand sanitizer for customers.
Essentially, casinos did everything possible to remain open and generate revenue.
In the end, the coronavirus did not care. COVID-19 began spreading through Australia – and exponentially in other countries like Spain, Italy, and the United States – to a point that officials had to take more urgent steps to stop it.
Morrison Orders Closures
On March 22, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with premiers and ministers from states and territories to discuss the virus. They all agreed that more needed to be done, including closing casinos, pubs, hotels, and entertainment venues.
Worse news for those businesses, the closures may last six months.
It was no easy decision. Morrison noted that the health and safety of Aussies are the priority. “We recognize how difficult this situation is for our people, our industry partners and the community,” he said, “and we are committed to using the strength of our business model and our enduring partnerships to come through this stronger, together.”
Casino Operators Respond with Layoffs
With casinos closed this week, it didn’t take long for companies adversely affected by the move to take serious steps to alleviate revenue losses.
Star Entertainment Group is asking 90% of its staff of 9,000 employees to step down temporarily. They will be granted two weeks of paid “pandemic leave,” but there would be no pay beyond that time. Chairman John O’Neill said this is a necessary measure to “protect the business while considering the considerable human impact to our workforce.”
Meanwhile, Star Entertainment management and board members will give up a “significant percentage” of their salaries and fees. However, they provided no further details.
Federal Group in Tasmania said it will put 1,500 employees out of work, leaving approximately 430 still receiving paychecks for the time being. While there was no guarantee that layoffs came with any pay at all, United Workers Union was in talks with Federal to ensure that every affected worker receives at least two weeks of pay upon their exit.
Company spokesman Daniel Hanna said the forced casino closures “forced our hand,” but the company will provide counselling services. Federal also intends to help affected employees find more work. “We want to keep a connection with those people,” he said, hoping that they “are going to be part of our future, help our industry and our state to rebuild itself.”
Crown Resorts has yet to reveal how many workers were excused from their jobs, but the United Workers Union said the number was approximately 10,000.
Numbers Keep Rising
The number of confirmed diagnoses and deaths from COVID-19 in Australia remains low relative to other countries. However, the rise this week was startling.
The number of coronavirus cases in New South Wales alone on March 25 was 190, but the number on March 26 was 1,219, a wildly significant jump. Of those cases, there were 16 patients in the intensive care units of hospitals, ten of whom required ventilators to breathe.
Across the whole of Australia, there are more than 3,000 cases now. Only 13 people have died from the virus across Australia thus far, but three of those happened within a 24-hour period.
If these figures continue to skyrocket, there may be further restrictions on the general public to prevent community spread.
For example, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that New South Wales may go into a lockdown. She noted that the move could come as soon as this weekend. The last decision to shut down pubs, casinos, cinemas, and churches may not be sufficient to stop the spread, so a mandatory lockdown may go into place before next week.
The global numbers are eye-popping with 532,253 confirmed cases around the world – as reported by governments willing to report – and 24,072 deaths.