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Calgary’s Chinatown reports business drop of up to 80 per cent over COVID-19 fears

Click to play video 'Calgary city council steps out for lunch, stops in Chinatown to support hurting businesses' Calgary city council steps out for lunch, stops in Chinatown to support hurting businesses
WATCH: Calgary’s Chinatown continues to see a huge drop in both business and visitors. As Tomasia DaSilva reports, city councillors were hoping to help reverse that slide today – Feb 24, 2020

Calgary’s Chinatown, a once-popular and bustling area of the city, continues to take the brunt of coronavirus or COVID-19 fears.

At Ami Tea & Sub Restaurant, business is down double-digits.

“My business is slow,” owner Thomas Nguyen said Monday, “about 30 per cent up to now.”

Nguyen is one of the lucky ones. Some businesses in the area report much larger drops.

“I think easily around 70 to 80 per cent,” Jason Zhang of Ho Won Restaurant said, “because people just don’t want to go out, right?”

WATCH: Calgary Chinatown restaurants, travel agencies seeing reservation cancellations amid coronavirus concerns

City councillors hoped to reverse that slide and attitude on Monday. They stopped at Ho Won Restaurant to chow down on some Chinese favourites, hoping to take a bite out of what they call “unfounded fears.”

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Calgary city councillors stop in Chinatown to support local businesses hit by coronavirus fears on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Global News

“We’ve seen some myths and some uncertainties in relation to the coronavirus,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “We need to remind everyone that there have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus here in Alberta.”

Nenshi added it is very safe in the city and “the chances of contracting anything is very, very, very low.”

Still, Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu said people aren’t getting the message, regardless of where they live in the city.

“Not only [in] Chinatown but in a lot of Chinese communities,” Chu said. “Edgemont is my area and I’ve heard business has dropped quite a bit.”

Zhang said that the virus fears are just the latest in a series of hits to businesses.

“It just suddenly came upon us. Along with an already tough economy and cold weather, it’s all compounded,” he said.

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READ MORE: Chinese tourists cancel trips to Canadian hotspots such as Banff, Jasper, Yellowknife

Many businesses hope things will eventually look up again as soon as fears calm down. Right now, they are hanging on thanks to other dining options.

“Some people order more delivery,” Nguyen said.

Chu hopes Calgarians will do more than that.

“Stop cooking at home. Go out to eat. That’s the best way,” he said.

The mayor’s office said the meal Monday was in place of the normally provided council lunch through the city clerk’s office.