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Antwerp Chinatown reports slump amid coronavirus fears

Restaurant holders say that fewer people are showing up, or that reservations are being cancelled. Credit: Wikipedia

Chinatown in Antwerp is suffering from the consequences of the coronavirus as clients and tourists avoid the area, despite there being only one confirmed case of the virus in Belgium.

“Just after Chinese New Year (on 25 January this year), I started to notice the impact of the coronavirus on our restaurant here in Chinatown. Normally, that is one of the busiest weeks of the year and we are packed, but that wasn’t the case at all. Last week, we saw 80% less Asian customers than in other years,” said Winston Choy from Antwerp, reports De Morgen. “Among Western customers, we notice less difference. They are aware of course, but they are maybe not so preoccupied with it,” he added.

“Asians know that Chinatown is the centre of the Asian community in Antwerp. Many of them have a catering business and come here to do their shopping,” Choy said. “I have customers who normally come here every Wednesday and now tell me that they would rather go to the Quick with their children. I am more afraid of the financial impact than the disease itself,” he added.

The turnover of Sun Wah, a supermarket in Chinatown, was 10% less last month than it usually is, according to Tony Chan, the owner, reports ATV, and restaurant holders say that fewer people are showing up, or that reservations are being cancelled. “Everyone seems to think we are contagious,” one of the owners said, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.

“A virus has no race or no morals, a virus is just a virus, and we have to fight it,” said Nico Volckeryck from the Organisation for self-employed people (NSZ), reports ATV. “But we are not going to do that with hysteria and fear,” he added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times