Businesses in Chinatowns across Canada have reported a drop in activity since COVID-19 hit China in January and started to spread around the world. The streets a quite in Chinatown in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Businesses in Chinatowns across Canada have reported a drop in activity since COVID-19 hit China in January and started to spread around the world. The streets a quite in Chinatown in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Chinatowns across Canada report drop in business due to new coronavirus fears

Around the world, about 81,000 people have become ill with the virus

Most of Calgary’s city councillors had lunch at a restaurant in Chinatown this week to try to help reduce fears about the new coronavirus.

Businesses in Chinatowns across Canada have reported a drop in activity since COVID-19 hit China in January and started to spread around the world.

At Ho Wan Restaurant in Calgary, the owners’ son, Jason Zhang, says business is down about 70 per cent.

“People are not coming out very much,” he said in an interview. “It was the slowest Family Day I’ve seen.

“It’s hard to predict when people come out … but, in general, especially during the regular times, it’s just a percentage shock.”

Coun. Druh Farrell, whose ward includes Chinatown, said council members went to the restaurant for lunch to show Calgarians it’s safe to eat out.

“Business in Chinatown is way down — in some restaurants 70 to 80 per cent,” she said. “It’s a dreadful burden on the businesses, so we wanted to show our support and encourage Calgarians to stand behind their local businesses, especially in Chinatown.”

There have been no cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, but there are 12 confirmed cases in Ontario and British Columbia. Around the world, about 81,000 people have become ill with the virus. The World Health Organization is reporting cases in 37 countries outside China.

Concerns about a decline in visitors have been reported in Chinatowns across North America.

In the United States, there’s a campaign in New York to ”Show Some Love for Chinatown.” Food crawls have been arranged to help Chicago’s Chinatown and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited San Francisco’s Chinatown District on Monday to try to quell fears.

READ MORE: Why do people get xenophobic when diseases like coronavirus hit?

Chinatown businesses in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto have all reported a decline in customers.

Alex Wang, who runs the Peninsula Seafood Restaurant in Vancouver, told Global News he has seen business drop more than 70 per cent and is worried the restaurant won’t be able to survive longer than three months.

In Edmonton, the chairwoman of the Chinatown and Area Business Association said there’s been a noticeable decline in activity this winter.

“There’s a general fear out there with the coronavirus,” said Holly Mah.

Some of that drop, she said, could be related to the generally slower winter season and Alberta’s sluggish economy.

Toronto’s Chinatown has also noticed a decline in customers.

“It’s a concern,” said Tonny Louie, chairman of the Chinatown Business Improvement Area. “People, in the back of their minds, they still wonder what will be next. This virus … is pretty hard to contain.”

He said business has picked up in the last couple of weeks, but noted streets were quiet after the first patient was admitted to hospital in Toronto.

“It was completely desolate for a week and a half,” he said. “No cars at all. And there’s all kinds of parking spots in Chinatown, so that means people were not coming in.”

Louie said some people have started to return, but there’s a dip every time there’s bad news.

“Not a lot of facts are known,” he said. “So far, they haven’t been able to identify a vaccine or a cure for it, other than go home and get rested up and isolate yourself and wash your hands.”

Louie said the group will be handing out hand sanitizer and dispensers to all businesses to help ease fears.

“Right now, the only possibility that they are talking about catching it is with hand touching and contact, so we can solve that problem at least.”

READ MORE: Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

Back in Alberta, health officials reminded people Wednesday to take precautions.

“Practice good infection prevention habits,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said in Edmonton. “Protect others by staying home when you are sick and covering coughs and sneezes.

Hinshaw said the risk in Alberta remains low and there is no need to stay home or avoid public places.

Farrell said she will continue to tell people about her favourite spots in Calgary.

“Chinatown is filled with family-owned restaurants and we need to support them or lose them,” she said. “It is a treasured community.”

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ChinaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jack Herring, 3, met Santa at a 2017 ‘Cram the Cruiser’ event held by White Rock RCMP. This Saturday (Nov. 28), the detachment will host a drive-thru collection drive as part of its month-long children’s clothing drive. (File photo)
Children’s clothing, winter wear sought at White Rock RCMP ‘main event’

Drive-thru collection day set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 28

Lisa Werring, Surrey Christmas Bureau boss, inside the charity’s new home. (Submitted photo)
‘Toys, toys, toys, we need toys’: Surrey Christmas Bureau calls for donations

‘It’s been a challenging season to say the least. Every day is a new adventure,’ says bureau boss Lisa Werring

Extras in Promises include many who currently serve in uniform in law enforcement, the military and the Canadian Border Services Agency. Contributed photo
Movie traces Punjabi soldiers’ role in battle during Second World War

Surrey director and White Rock councillor participate in film project

Sukhi Sandhu, organizer of Wake Up Surrey. (File photo)
Wake Up Surrey welcomes Lipinski as city’s new police chief

But Surrey Police Service will not solve Surrey’s gang violence on its own, Sukhi Sandhu says

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read