HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shares of Macau casino operators soared on Tuesday after China loosened coronavirus-related border restrictions, setting the stage for the gradual resumption of business in the world’s biggest gambling hub which has seen visitors dry up.

On Monday night, local authorities said visitors arriving from the special administrative region of Macau would no longer have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period in the neighbouring coastal province of Guangdong.

Analysts said the measure, which comes into effect on July 15, was the first step towards normalisation in the former Portuguese colony, as the border between mainland China has been effectively shut down since late March.

“We expect demand from Guangdong can recover quickly to 70% of normal levels, assuming visas resume reasonably soon,” DS Kim, an analyst at J.P. Morgan in Hong Kong said.

Visitors must have tested negative for coronavirus in the previous seven days and must hold green health codes of Macau and Guangdong.

Shares of Hong Kong listed casino stocks including Wynn Macau (1128.HK) and MGM China (2282.HK) rose between 6%-11% on Monday morning, outperforming the benchmark Hong Kong index .HSI which was down 0.7%.

Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Shailesh Kuber

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