Chinese restaurant owners pin downturn in business on coronavirus fears

Some Chinese restaurants in the DMV are seeing a drastic drop in business, and are blaming fears surrounding the coronavirus

Its a pattern we’re seeing more and more of...people avoiding Chinatowns and Chinese run businesses- out of fear of contracting the novel virus. And it’s not just impacting the Washington, D.C./Virginia area, but across the country from San Francisco to New York.  

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Restaurant management and staff  at “99 Degree Hot Pot” in Fairfax say since the Chinese New Year, they’ve noticed a shift in foot traffic. 

They believe it’s directly linked to the fear and panic surrounding the coronavirus that’s creating misconceptions about how the virus is spread. 

Over at Sichuan Jin River in Rockville, they’ve seen a 35 percent drop in business so far this year, mainly among their Chinese customers. 

The manager says it’s been incredibly tough these past few weeks, they’re closing their business at least an hour earlier and are hoping it doesn’t lead to layoffs. 

Here’s what she has to say to her customers tonight: 

“I don’t blame if you’re concerned about that, but don’t overreact. You will be fine. We have Fresh food, nice people. And we keep everything clean and not to worry, come to our restaurant,” said Judy Yu, Sichuan Jin River manager. 

“Sometime early February after Chinese New Year, restaurant got really quite. From the time of the corona virus

"Hoping to get back the traffic? Definitely during evening time,” said Nathan No an employee at 99c Hot Pot. 

There are 34 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S.- none in the Washington, D.C. area. 

Dr. Amesh Adalja with Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security had this to say: 

“We know the virus is being spread through a respiratory route. There have Been no reports of this being spread through food. And There’s a real danger in compounding the disruption of this virus by people boycotting foods they suspect including Chinese food. As well as boycotting neighborhoods like Chinatown, Which is really unwarranted in increasing the stigmatization going on all over the world,” he said. 

Doctor Adalja adds that since the virus spreads through coughing and sneezing, it can easily spread from someone sneezing on a burger. So he says fears surrounding Chinese run restaurants are misguided.