City councilor holds event in Chinatown to help businesses impacted by coronavirus ‘assumptions’

BOSTON — Coronavirus fears have devastated businesses in Boston’s Chinatown, but, on Saturday, hundreds showed up for a discounted brunch to support those hit hard by the perception.

Nearly 400 people packed the China Pearl Restaurant after being invited by City Councilor Michelle Wu and Quincy City Council President Nina Liang. The surge in business came at a critical time, said restaurant manager Patty Moy.

“It really does prove Boston strong,” she said.

Moy says her business dropped off by 50% since February 3 because of fears related to coronavirus that medical experts say are baseless.

“There's no reason to avoid Chinatown,” said Marc Lipsitch of Harvard’s School of Public Health. “I’ve been here, I’m here today, I was in a Chinese restaurant last week.”

“When people don’t show up, the impacts ripple all throughout the city and the state,” Wu said.

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Allison Friedmann, of Roslindale, and her family came to China Pearl for dim sum after seeing an email from Wu.

“We were like, ‘this sounds great!’” Friedmann said.

They’re far more fearful of the flu than coronavirus.

“We feel like there's no reason to not come down,” Friedmann said. “That is probably based on raced-based assumptions people are making why they are not coming down here.”

The invitation was the start; Councilor Wu says there will be more of these events in Quincy and other areas that have lost lots of business as a result of coronavirus concerns.

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