New numbers from Edmonton’s Chinatown and Area Business Association show just how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been on businesses in the area.
Since the start of the pandemic, approximately 30 businesses in Edmonton’s Chinatown were forced to permanently shut down.
“Before the pandemic we had 150 businesses in Chinatown, in our association but now we estimate we have 120 left that survived so far,” Chinatown and Area Business Association Executive Director Wen Wang said.
After more than a year of temporary closures, mounting bills and COVID-19 uncertainty, Dynasty Century Palace Restaurant is once again welcoming customers inside.
“It’s exciting to hear voices other than just me and my staff,” owner Thang Ly said.
The restaurant is one of many businesses in Chinatown that has barely managed to remain open.
“I did whatever I could to survive through this pandemic,” Ly said.
Wang said many businesses struggled even before COVID-19 due to visitors feeling unsafe and a lack of beautification in the area.
“All businesses are suffering but we are special, we’re unique, no other businesses have been hit like we did,” Wang said.
He said looser restrictions are promising, but if social issues don’t change, more businesses will be at risk of closing.
“Chinatown is a part of our heritage. We have a long history, around 100 years in Edmonton, but we are worried how many Chinese businesses will survive in the next few years,” Wang said.
“Shutting down, opening, shutting down, opening, the last year and a half was really, really tough, but I do personally think we’re going to stay open from now on,” Ly said.
While Ly is hopeful this will be his last reopening, he said getting back to pre-pandemic levels will take time.
As for Wang, he said more security in Chinatown and financial supports are needed to give businesses a fighting chance.