Local businesses continue to feel the crunch as the spread of coronavirus from China reaches Canada. Health officials confirmed this Thursday a new patient testing positive for novel coronavirus in Ontario, a man in his 60s who is now in self-isolation.
The Star went to downtown Chinatown to talk to businesses about how they are dealing with the fallout:
Name: Tony Nguyen
Business: Pho Hung
Address: 350 Spadina Ave.
Comments: Nguyen said he was in business during the SARS outbreak, which he described as “worse than now,” because it was longer. He’s concerned the spread of coronavirus might linger and affect his business further. “I hope we can survive. (As is the case during) any virus (outbreak), customers will maybe realize they are wrong and they will come back,” he said.
Name: Dali Sun
Business: Dumpling House Restaurant
Address: 328 Spadina Ave.
Comments: Sun sees a silver lining in half the clientele still loyal to him: some of the businesses nearby have lost nearly 90 per cent of their base during “this crisis.”
“During SARS we didn’t see anybody. At least now we are seeing a few,” he said. He’s hoping to stay afloat and to continue to pay his 11 employees.
Name: Stephen Li
Business: Ten Miles BBQ
Address: 359 Spadina Ave.
Comments: Sitting in a nearly empty restaurant at lunch time on Thursday, Li said he recalls when the place would be at least half full earlier in the year. “We’ve been losing so much. Everyone is afraid to come out because of this coronavirus,” he said. The restaurant has had to throw away expired supplies, which adds to the huge loss. “That’s meat. Very expensive,” he said. “I wish it was over quickly.”
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Name: Shan Lin
Business: Ding Dong Pastries
Address: 321 Spadina Ave.
Comments: Lin said winter time is always slower for business, but it’s been so much worse because “people hear the news and they are afraid to come,” she said. She said the owners are “concerned” that the coronavirus could drag on for too long and force their business to close down completely.
Name: Jin Ma
Business: Gold Stone Noodle Restaurant
Address: 266 Spadina Ave.
Comments: Ma said business has been “a little bit quiet” for the past two months, but she believes it’s “the tax period,” and the usual slow months of February, March and April but not necessarily due to the fear of coronavirus. “It was slow the first few weeks when coronavirus started, but it’s back to normal now,” she said.