Chinatown restaurants suffering amid fear of coronavirus

CHINATOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- It's an unlikely victim of the coronavirus - restaurants in Chinatown and other Asian neighborhoods are supposed to be booming with Lunar New Year celebrations. Instead, businesses are tanking.

Fear of the virus is apparently keeping locals at home, even though there is no evidence they should stay home.

Helen Ng is the owner of Amazing 66 restaurant on Mott Street. She says business has dropped by about 50%.

"People are very concerned. We understand their feelings, but it's hurting us, too. Business is not here," Ng says.

Even though there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York, just the fear of it seems to be keeping residents at home.

Robin Mui with Sing Tao Newspapers says restaurants and stores in Chinatown, Flushing, and Brooklyn are all suffering because locals are afraid to gather in public.

Ng says in 14 years, she has never seen it this bad. Even during Superstorm Sandy, as soon as the power went back on, customers flooded her door again.

Regular customer, Sarah Zeng, who lives in New Jersey was one of the handfuls of customers who were out during the dinner hour.

"There's no need to be scared, no need to stay at home," Zeng says.

Owners need the extra business right now to help them through the rest of the winter.

For Ng, the pinch is especially hard, because she refuses to let her staff be punished by the fear.

She still pays for them even if no one is ordering any food.

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