Crown Melbourne Sees Eased Restrictions and More Patrons

Crown Casino
An easing of coronavirus restrictions in Victoria has led to some good news for Crown’s flagship casino in Melbourne.

Asgam reports the state’s restrictions were peeled back last Friday, including the mandatory wearing of face masks in most public spaces and an increase in the number of people allowed at various venues.

The state had entered a short five-day lockdown from February 12 to 16 after a small number of COVID-19 cases linked to hotel quarantine workers were detected.

After reopening to customers on February 17 with a limit of 300 patrons on its casino floor, Crown said Friday it can now increase capacity to one person per four square metres in each indoor space, capped at 50 per cent of maximum stated capacity for the entire facility.

“Physical distancing and hygiene protocols remain in place,” Crown said.

Crown Resorts is currently awaiting the start of a Royal Commission into its suitability to hold a casino licence for flagship property Crown Melbourne, representing Victoria’s response to the Bergin report, which found Crown unsuitable to hold a licence in NSW.

The Royal Commission is set to be fast-tracked with the final report due as early as August, but no later than the end of the year.

Victoria’s Liquor and Gaming Minister Melissa Horne said during a recent press conference that Crown Melbourne will continue to operate “but within the context of the Royal Commission examining its suitability. We need to work with the Royal Commission and see what those findings are.”

Macau seeks return of e-visa scheme with China

Macau is working with China to reintroduce its Individual Visit Scheme e-visa program that allows Chinese residents to visit the city with ease.

Calvin Ayre reported in February that the program has been on hold since January 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and previous attempts to relaunch the system haven’t been successful.

The e-visa is essentially an electronic method of filing for an Individual Visa Scheme, but anyone from the Chinese mainland who wants to visit Macau now has to apply in person.

As a result, in many cases, it can take up to two weeks for an application to be approved, but the e-visa option provides approval for same-day travel.

Maria Helene de Senna Fernandes, the direction of the Macau Government Tourism Office said: “Mainland visitors have to apply for IVS in person, so we keep fighting for the resumption of IVS e-visa with the mainland government.”

Any recovery for Macau is dependent on the relaunch of the e-visa program, which Sanford C Bernstein analysts said during its weekly Macau update.

“We expect visitation to increase only slowly over the next months, assuming travel restrictions due to COVID-19 are not increased.

“The key jump in visitors will come when visa processing switches back to digital and the same day, which may take some time. We are not likely to see material alleviation of bottlenecks in the near term.”

The director of the Macau Government Tourism Office is remaining positive that Macau can get on track, but acknowledges that diversification in its activities will be the key to its success going forward.

This echoes plans that have been in the works recently for Macau to become a global tourism hotspot for everyone, not just gamblers, and Senna Fernandes added: “What we should do in the future is to attract visitors to stay longer in Macau rather than chasing the numbers.

“We should increase attractions in Macau and we hope that package tours from the mainland will be resumed soon.

William Brown

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