Chinatown businesses hit hard by coronavirus epidemic, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Chinatown businesses hit hard by coronavirus epidemic

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The streets of Chinatown, usually bustling with tourists and locals, were eerily quiet yesterday, as people steered clear of the area amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Businesses in the area, which say they are particularly popular with tourists from China, told The Straits Times they had taken a painful hit, with some shop owners reporting a 50 per cent drop in sales.

They are bracing themselves for even worse times, with the announcement on Tuesday of local transmission of the coronavirus in Singapore.

Mrs Zhao Hongmin, 50, who owns Orchid Chopsticks selling traditional Chinese gifts and souvenirs in the Chinatown Street Market on Trengganu Street, said the drop in sales and human traffic started after the Chinese New Year weekend.

"I have four shops in Chinatown and one in Suntec City. The shop in Suntec City earned $16 on Feb 4 compared to $400 to $500 (a day) in the past. If this continues, I may have to speak to the management to reduce the rent because we won't be able to survive," she lamented.


The Straits Times spoke to shop owners in Chinatown Street Market during a cleaning session attended by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and National Trades Union Congress secretary-general Ng Chee Meng to ensure they were meeting the cleaning standards in light of the outbreak.

Retail assistant at Best Souvenirs Store, Madam Zainon Jaffar, said business has been "very bad" since Chinese New Year.

The 56-year-old said: "It has dropped by more than 50 per cent. Tourists make up 85 per cent of our customer base and we have seen significantly fewer of them."

Mr Ng said the feedback he received from shop owners in Chinatown is that "businesses have slowed down by 50 per cent".

He said: "Tripartite partners like the Ministry of Manpower and NTUC as well as employers are looking at how to help businesses defray business costs and augment available labour." - AMRITA KAUR