Fresh outbreaks of COVID-19 across Australia have prompted local authorities to institute “circuit breaker lockdowns,” designed to offer contact tracers enough time to locate those exposed to the virus. The lockdowns will of course put a halt to casino gambling across the country.
Current casino closures
Many Australian casinos have been compelled to temporarily close their doors, with different potential reopening dates planned, dependant on the area.
The city of Darwin is locked down until at least July 2nd; this will affect the Mindil Beach Casino Resort. In Queensland, all casinos have closed to the public with venues like The Star Gold Coast, Treasury Brisbane, and The Ville Resort-Casino currently out of commission.
The most populated city in the nation, Sydney, is currently under lockdown for two weeks, doubling the previously tabled estimate of 7 days. In the west of Australia, Perth has announced a brief four-day lockdown, compelling Crown Perth to shut down its gambling operations for the period with business expected to resume on midnight of July 2nd.
This recent surge of lockdowns and closures is mostly owed to a pocket of infections called the “Bondi Cluster.”
Bondi is a famous beach suburb in Sydney with a population of over 10,000 and the “cluster” half of the term refers to two or more cases in individuals that don’t live together, but who have been infected by a virus with an identical genetic sequence who have made contact with each other.
The first Bondi Cluster case reportedly came from a driver who had transported an international flight crew. It spread rapidly and has been recently linked to over 160 cases. Infections have crossed the state borders into Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.
The dual-pronged approach of lockdowns and widespread testing means that most clusters are dealt with within a three-week period. By this measure, the Bondi Cluster should be fully contained by the second week of July.
The Delta threat
A new threat that has emerged from the pandemic is the feared Delta variant that is driving the spread of the Bondi virus. Unsettling details have shown that Delta is incredibly more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19.
Professor Catherine Bennett, the chair of epidemiology at Deakin University said,
“This isn’t a sleeper variant. When you look at the pattern of spread, it seems that most people are passing it on to more than one person. Not only are more close contacts more likely to be infected, but they’re also more likely to see cases amongst those casual contacts. And what we do know about Delta is that it seems to give you a high viral load a little bit quicker.”
Grim fortunes for casual workers
With all three properties of The Star Entertainment Group closed, the company has mercifully announced that it will keep paying its employees during the lockdown.
Unfortunately for the many casual workers in Sydney, there is no safety net for when they cannot work. There are approximately 466,500 casual workers in the city, who bring in an average weekly salary of $609. The lockdown is expected to cause a loss of over $100 million in wages.