Chinatown mainstay Shark Fin House shut this week after a significant drop in patronage over the past month. Co-owner Gabriel Chan told the Age that customers have been scared to come to the venue because of coronavirus fears.
The restaurant, which has been open on Little Bourke Street for more than 30 years, shut its doors on Sunday. Patronage has dropped by 80 per cent since news of the outbreak, and it was deemed unsustainable for the business to stay open.
Chan is urging Melburnians to support the venue’s sister restaurant, Shark Fin Inn, which is also located on Little Bourke Street. It’s likely Shark Fin Inn will also close if business doesn’t pick up soon.
Victoria’s health minister Jenny Mikakos has said there is "no reason for alarm in the general community" and has urged for calm around the novel coronavirus situation. "We have strict protocols that are in place in terms of how we deal with these infectious disease outbreaks," Mikakos said.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, told the Age that of the four cases of coronavirus in Victoria, three people had recovered and the fourth would be discharged from hospital this week.
"That effectively means that there is no one we’re aware of in Victoria who can transmit to anyone else," he said. "That’s why we’ve been very clear that people can go about their lives normally."
Sutton encouraged people to visit Chinese businesses, emphasising that there were no additional risks.
"Feel free to go to Chinese businesses, feel free to go to Chinese restaurants, go to Chinese events, as I did for Chinese New Year."
Coronavirus-based discrimination is happening all over Melbourne right now, so it’s important that Melburnians support these wonderful businesses in this trying time. You are no more likely to contract coronavirus eating at a Chinese restaurant than any other restaurant in Melbourne, and trains, trams and shopping centres are more crowded spaces than restaurants. Coronavirus can be transmitted from person to person, but only after close contact with an infected patient. And with the government not aware of any cases of contagious people, your chances of contracting the disease is very low, no matter where you go.
To keep yourself (and others) safe, remember to wash your hands frequently with soap and remember to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. That's good hygiene in general and will help stop the spread of the normal flu (much more dangerous than coronavirus), colds and any kind of contagious disease.