Business owners in Manhattan and Queens in New York are reporting a significant drop in customers over fears of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV or COVID-19) even though there are no confirmed cases in the state.
In a press conference on Wednesday, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership, Wellington Chen, noted there were a lot of cancellations and low foot traffic at many businesses in Chinatowns across the city, according to the Gothamist.
“Across the board, from grocery to banquet hall, everyone we talk to, there’s no one who says, ‘I haven’t suffered,'” Chen said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this drop is severe.”
“My business dropped about 60-70 percent,” Chi Vy Ngo, the owner of New York Bo Ky Restaurant on Bayard Street, said, adding that a business like his “depends on the public.”
“Come out show more support and this thing will go away very soon,” he said.
January is usually a slow month for businesses in the area, but for Mohammed Shariful Islam, a 35-year-old man who works at a souvenir shop on Mott Street, these days have been worse than usual. He said the daily receipts have dropped to about $600 to $1,000.
The Chinatown in Flushing, Queens has also been hit hard by fears of the COVID-19. Szechuan Mountain House, which is typically packed through midnight, was reportedly empty by 10 p.m. on Saturday.
Cheong Tak Chio, an acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, also saw a drop in appointments at his clinic starting on Lunar New Year. Despite what’s happening, the head of the Hubei Association remains optimistic that things will turn around for the better.
“It feels like it’s getting better. The community is rebounding,” Cheong, who has been in practice in Flushing for 20 years, said in Mandarin. “Now that everyone’s learning more about the outbreak and realizing that it’s not so bad, now you begin to see crowds return. I think give it another week, and Flushing could be 80-90 percent back.”
Heat Noodle, a restaurant specializing in Wuhan cuisine located in the food court basement of New World Mall, lost half of its usual customers beginning in December. But the owner, Chen Long, expressed that he is not worried.
“Worry doesn’t help, so I just do what I do as usual,” he said. “Try to make my food delicious.”
Globally, there are 73,336 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 while in the United States, there are only 15 cases and 1 recovery, according to Worldometers.