Manila Casinos Shutter Operations Again, as Philippines President Orders Quarantine

Posted on: March 29, 2021, 12:37h. 

Last updated on: March 29, 2021, 12:51h.

The four integrated casino resorts in Manila have once again gone dark on orders from Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

Philippines Manila casino resort lockdown
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is seen here last week during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases. The president has ordered Manila under a lockdown today through the weekend. (Image: Philippines Presidential Photo)

Duterte issued an Enhanced Community Quarantine for metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal that runs from today through Sunday, April 4. The government directive bans all mass gatherings indoors and out, suspends all non-essential business, and implements a nightly curfew from 6 pm to 5 am. 

As a result, City of Dreams, Okada, Solaire, and Resorts World have closed their resort and gaming operations. Hotel reservations have been canceled and refunded, and restaurants are limited to takeout. 

The Philippines is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, as well as new variants of the coronavirus. All other areas remain under a Modified General Community Quarantine, which is the most relaxed quarantine classification in the country. 

The Philippines has recorded 731,894 COVID-19 cases, and the virus has been cited for more than 13,100 deaths. 

Duterte Fires Back at Opponents

Manila’s four casino resorts in the capital’s Entertainment City complex endured a most difficult 2020. The gaming properties were forced to close in mid-March of last year, and remained shut through July.

Gaming was permitted to recommence in August, but at a reduced capacity of 30 percent. The long-running restrictions on gaming and various other non-essential businesses have ravaged the country’s economy.

Implementing another round of closures generated backlash among the public. Duterte says it isn’t only the Philippines that is taking such drastic steps to combat the ongoing pandemic.

“The truth is, the countries of Ukraine, France, Germany, Poland, and Italy are also under lockdowns,” the president declared.

I would be the last person who would inflict suffering on Filipinos,” Duterte added. “If I only had the power like a magic wand to make this problem vanish, I would do it.”

Duterte has been the president of the Philippines since 2016. His six-year term will expire in June of 2022. The president of the Philippines can only serve one term. 

Easter Lockdown

Duterte’s Enhanced Community Quarantine for the five cities impacts over 25 million people, and will keep most home during this weekend’s Easter holiday.

Health officials in the Philippines say new COVID-19 infections have more than tripled since February 26. And more than half of the new cases have originated in the capital region.

While many in the Philippines have criticized the government’s handling of the health crisis, Duterte blamed “pandemic fatigue” for the latest surge. Duterte’s administration previously congratulated its COVID-19 response and the government’s long shutdowns on nonessential businesses. 

“We were excellent,” said presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier this month. “We controlled the spread of the disease compared to richer countries that have modern hospitals.”

Aaditya Mattoo, the World Bank chief economist for East Asia and Pacific, disagrees. 

“The Philippines has been less successful in the region in transitioning away from shutdowns to a more efficient containment strategy,” Mattoo stated. “The tough response has imposed a big cost on the economy without delivering a commensurate benefit in terms of containment of the disease.”