City leaders hoping to bring customers back to Chinatown after coronavirus fears began impacting business

BOSTON — It’s supposed to be the busiest times of the year in Boston’s Chinatown - the Lunar New Year season - but this year, the neighborhood isn’t seeing the boom due to the coronavirus scare.

“You can see it at by the available parking spaces out there, which a lot of people have noticed, which is really the telltale sign of it,” said Patty Moy, manager of China Pearl restaurant.

At some restaurants and bakeries, they say business is down 50 to 70%.

City health officials stress there’s no reason to stay away. There has been one confirmed coronavirus case in the city and officials say there is no greater risk in any one neighborhood.

Mayor Marty Walsh is also trying to get the message across. His office is taking the initiative to social media using the hashtag #ILoveBostonChinatown. They’re challenging people to complete a bingo card, documenting some Chinatown favorites like taking a selfie with the Chinatown gate, sipping on a bubble tea, or meeting a local shop owner.

Travelers who have been to affected regions in China are screen at the airport, and the virus is not airborne.

“But what we have seen this year is that the coronavirus scare has almost lined up exactly and therefore business has been really slow, families who are really anxious, thinking about how they are going to put food on the table and a neighborhood and community that feels the brunt of the stereotypes of the disease and the news of it," said Michelle Wu, Boston City Councilor At-Large.

Councilor Wu is hosting a brunch at the China Pearl restaurant Saturday to encourage people to come to Chinatown. They say the business is welcome and needed.

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