Fear-mongering over the coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken a toll on many Asian businesses across the world.
In Australia, misinformation has caused a major slump for many Chinese restaurants. Now, Australians are taking a stand against the growing racism and xenophobia towards Asian Australians with #IWillEatWithYou, a campaign to encourage support of local Chinese businesses.
The hashtag #IWillEatWithYou urges people to dine at Chinese restaurants to keep them from going under.
Introduced by community action organization GetUp!, the hashtag #IWillEatWithYou was posted by participants on social media last week to let the public know that it is safe to dine at Chinese restaurants.
“Can you pledge #IWillEatWithYou & eat at an Asian restaurant to show your support?” a post asked supporters.
“While other restaurants and public spaces are still buzzing, it is the Chinatown restaurants and Asian grocers that stand empty. Panic around the virus is unfairly impacting Chinese and Asian communities,” a post on the organization’s website stated. “If we don’t take action – people will lose their jobs and their livelihoods. Can you take the pledge to defeat baseless fears and support these businesses in their time of need?”
Shark Fin, a 30-year-old restaurant in Melbourne’s Chinatown, was forced to shut down after its sales dropped by 80%. In an interview with The Age, owner Gabriel Chan shared that he had to let go of over 40 staff members and 10 other workers.
“It’s very hard… With customer fears of coronavirus still high, we can see numbers reducing,” Chan said.
He made the decision to close the restaurant in order for his other restaurant, Shark Fin Inn to survive.
“We’re very sad, very unhappy, but we still have to work, so I would tell the people don’t scare, come to the restaurant, support us.”
Australians have been responding positively to the campaign with tweets using the hashtag, #IWillEatWithYou.
Susie Cole shared a photo of her family eating at a Chinese restaurant in Melbourne on Sunday. In her post, she lamented the closure of Chan’s Shark Fin restaurant.
“Last week our family (Mum, Josie, Mason & granddaughters Poppy & Daniella & me) ate at Harmony (Chinese) restaurant & had no qualms about coronavirus or anything else, but this week, iconic Shark Fin restaurant in Little Bourke St has closed after nearly 40 years & countless other family run Chinese restaurants are in peril because people are avoiding them for baseless fears,” she wrote.
“Please keep patronising the Chinese restaurants you love, please visit fire affected rural communities & spend money there, small businesses need customers to survive. #IWillEatWithYou.”
The campaign has since spread to other countries, including Ireland and the United States.
Feature Image via GetUp!