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Macau, struck by COVID, reopens beaches but forbids swimming

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Macau, struck by COVID, reopens beaches but forbids swimming

Since the outbreak’s start in mid-June, the city has seen just over 1,800 instances of the coronavirus, but on Wednesday there were no new infections reported for the first time.

After its most severe epidemic to date, which earlier this month forced authorities to close casinos and the majority of businesses for close to two weeks, the city is now gradually recovering.

On Saturday, when the temperature climbed to 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit), residents of Macau were permitted to “visit the beach for walks and relaxation,” but authorities drew a line in the sand by forbidding water-based activities.

According to local media, Macau vigorously enforces anti-epidemic laws. One would-be beachgoer was fined 3,000 patacas ($370) last week after driving onto Hac Sa against the law.

As officials battle to contain the deadliest coronavirus outbreak yet in the world’s largest gambling market, Macao shut down all of its casinos for the first time in more than two years on Monday, sending shares in gaming enterprises plummeting.

People were instructed to stay at home for a week while the city’s more than 30 casinos and other businesses were closed, with the exception of brief outings for vital services.

Macau abides by China’s zero-Covid policy, which uses tight border checks, lockdowns, and social segregation to contain epidemics.The government mandated that visitors to the beach “at all times wear masks of the proper specification, maintain social distance, avoid gathering in masses, and refrain from vigorous exercise.”

On Saturday morning, families gathered to Macau’s Hac Sa beach, and one beachgoer said they understood the restrictions, according to state broadcaster Teledifusao de Macau. For the first time since last Wednesday, the city recorded no new infections.

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