Only a few tourists crisscrossed the wavy black and white paving of Macao's historic Senado Square on a recent weekday and many of the shops were shuttered, according to AP..

The gaming hub on China’s south coast near Hong Kong has endured some of the world’s strictest anti-virus controls for nearly three years, and a loosening of border restrictions after China rolled back its “zero-COVID” strategy in early December is widely expected to boost its tourism-driven economy.

But for now, China’s worst wave of infections so far is keeping away the hoards of high rollers who usually fill its casinos. From Dec. 23-27, the city saw a daily average of only 8,300 arrivals, according to police data. That’s just 68% of November’s level. The scene improved on New Year’s Eve with 28,100 visitors entering the city that day, but that’s only 66% of the level a year ago. The daily average was 108,000 in 2019, before the pandemic.

© Copyright LaPresse