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Chinatown businesses say coronavirus fears leading to less local traffic

Last Updated Jan 30, 2020 at 12:18 pm MST

Chinatown business owners feel they are being impacted by rumours of the coronavirus. The risk is low of contracting coronavirus in Canada. (PHOTO: Saif Kaisar, 660 NEWS)
Summary

Terry Wong believes fewer people are visiting Chinatown because of fears of coronavirus

There are no official numbers on whether or not business is down

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – “People need to do their research.”

The coronavirus may not be in Calgary at this point, but some local business owners say their bottom line is being affected.

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Terry Wong, with the Chinatown District Business Improvement Area, told 660 NEWS that despite there being no cases, many are saying they’re losing business because of rumours.

He said he’s heard from businesses who say fewer people are coming to Chinatown.

“At this point in time, within Canada, the risk is low,” Wong said. “People are following what they hear through social media, or global news. But that situation, that environment is not germane to Calgary at the moment.”

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Wong said he has had conversations with the chief medical health officer and the minister of health, and they both said there is not a risk of getting the virus that would warrant people staying away from restaurants and other spaces in Chinatown.

But he said he was worried about other factors.

“We are concerned that there are more misstatements and speculation that is affecting people’s choices to come to Chinatown, whether it be for dining or joining banquets, or whatever the case may be.”

He also added that this is not just an issue in Calgary. He believed it to be a global issue.

“You will see reaction, whether it be in Toronto, New York, San Francisco Chinatown, where people will take a look at a community, an Asian community or take a look at Asian people and make some judgments as to places of origin and whether or not they’re afflicted or contagious and that is purely uninformed, speculative and perhaps even prejudicial.”

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Wong did not go as far as to say there is racist behaviour, but he wanted Calgarians to have all the facts before being fearful.

“It gets back to having a clear understanding of what the root cause of the problem and the actions being taken that need to be understood before passing judgement on whether it’s by culture, ethnicity, region or the colour of your hair.”

There are no official numbers from the City of Calgary or businesses proving that sales have been affected by a lack of patronage at this time.

With files from CityNews.