Macau was set to enter its second week of lockdown on Sunday, with authorities extending restrictions by five days as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the southern Chinese territory.
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Authorities on July 11 ordered residents to stay at home for a week except for supplies or other essential trips, and to get tested, after registering more than 1,500 cases of coronavirus in three weeks despite massive campaigns of screening.
This so-called “static management” measure, which was due to end on Monday, has been extended until Friday inclusive, the number of cases having continued to increase to more than 1,700. Recalcitrants risk up to two years of jail.
The authorities of the former Portuguese colony have aligned themselves with the draconian "zero COVID" policy practiced in mainland China, which consists of confining and massively testing the population as soon as a few cases appear, in the hope of stem the epidemic.
Some public services and businesses such as supermarkets and pharmacies are allowed to remain open. But casinos - which in normal times account for around 80% of Macau's government revenue, half of its gross domestic product and employ one in five residents - must remain closed.
Authorities have announced that employers are not required to pay their employees for the duration of the lockdown.