Chinatowns around Australia, usually bustling with tourists and hungry diners — and particularly now in such close timing to the Luna New Year celebrations — have seen a drastic drop-off in visitors and passers-by due to fears around Coronavirus.
Sadly, this active avoidance is causing many of Sydney’s Haymarket Chinatown businesses to lose income, and in some unfortunate cases, close for good.
Last week, Melbourne institution Shark Fin House closed its doors after 30 years due to an 80% loss of income, while Chinese restaurants in both Melbourne and Sydney have reportedly lost between 50 to 80% of their income, too. As a result, these businesses are having to lay off staff and consider shutting up shop.
“It’s been a really hard time,” Jack Chen, manager of Good Luck Hot Pot in Sydney’s Chinatown, told Triple J’s Hack this week. “We can only last three more weeks if business doesn’t improve.”
In an impassioned article for Broadsheet, Sydney chef Dan Hong encouraged readers to drop unjustified fears and support local Chinatown restaurants and retailers in this time — if not to support business owners, then at least for the discount lobsters.
“Usually 90% of live lobster in Australia gets exported to China, but because of the export ban on Australian seafood to China right now, it’s almost half the price,” he wrote.
Looking for inspiration on where to dine? The newly-created Dine with Them Instagram account is working to encourage hungry diners into impacted restaurants around Australia with delicious food recommendations and enticing images.
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LANZHOU BEEF NOODLE BAR in CHADSTONE – Go out and continue enjoying all the Asian noodles. Don't let hysteria get between you and those thicc noodles in spicy broths. . Reposted from @ieatblog Supporting @dinewiththem by eating noodles at an Asian restaurant. Today's noodles are @beefnoodlebar Super bouncy thick handmade noodles (you can choose which size you want) with a flavoursome broth (varying spiciness, I got very spicy and it was numbingly hot) with very tender pieces of beef brisket. A wonderful bowl of noodles. Get lots of coriander and leek as it really adds to the overall flavour. #dinewiththem
What’s perhaps most unfortunate is the fact concerns from the public are factually unfounded. Widespread misinformation and fearmongering has directly influenced society’s avoidance of these areas, but in Australia, there are only 15 cases of Coronavirus.
At the time of writing, 10 of the earlier cases are reported to have recovered. The other five cases are in a stable condition. And what’s more, there are no reports of human-to-human Coronavirus transmission in Australia.