While cases of the COVID19 coronavirus in all of New York state remain at zero, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Flushing), City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Raul Perea-Henze visited the New World Mall in Flushing today to speak with members of the Flushing Chinese Business Association (FCBA) and encourage New Yorkers to continue to shop at local Asian businesses.
The FCBA estimates that so far in the month of February, business in Flushing is down about 40% across the board. The hit of this dramatic drop in sales is being felt by small businesses run by members of the Asian community in all five boroughs of New York City. The Royal Queen, a restaurant in the New World Mall, has itself had over 1,000 table reservations canceled this month alone.
FCBA Director Peter Tu made the Mayor’s office aware of the business slump in Flushing last week, and today thanked the city and the Asian community for its quick response to keep the virus out of New York City – so far, only six people have been tested for the virus in New York and all tests have received negative results.
Stigma and prejudice towards the Asian community during this health crisis are now the main point of concern for the association, as they try to attract business back to the area. “I’m worried this is a more serious problem than the coronavirus,” said Tu.
De Blasio said in hard times, New Yorkers know to stand by their neighbors. “We’re in Flushing today to embrace Asian-American owned small businesses and say to all New Yorkers: New York City’s Chinatowns are open for business,” he said.
Johnson believes the best way to attract business to the area is for the city’s officials to continue to commit to remaining calm, scientific, factual, and to dispel myths about the virus. “It is unacceptable to discriminate against anyone else because of their identity, because of the way they look, and because of their race,” says Johnson. “Our greatest strength as a city is our diversity.”
Koo implored all New Yorkers to show some towards Flushing and dine out on Valentine’s Day.
“Our community has over 250 restaurants with the most diverse array of cuisines from all around the world. New Yorkers are renowned for supporting each other during times of crisis, and with many restaurants reporting a 40% decline in business, we want to encourage everyone to visit Flushing,” said Koo.
“New York has zero cases of COVID19, and as long as we all continue to use proper precautions recommended by healthcare professionals, there is no reason to fear the delicious food in Flushing. Just remember some of it may be a little spicy!”