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Tue Dec 8, 2020, 10:42 AM

Chinatown Businesses Face a Particularly Brutal Winter

(Bloomberg CityLab) Weeks before the first reported U.S. case of Covid-19, the future pandemic was already inflicting economic damage in the Chinatowns of several U.S. cities. During what should have been the busiest time of the year in these Asian-American enclaves, business was down.

In January 2020, dim sum parlors and banquet halls in Lower Manhattanís Chinatown noticed a drop in reservations. A conspicuously thin crowd gathered to watch San Franciscoís Lunar New Year parade on Feb. 8. At a grocery store in Houstonís Chinatown, sales fell overnight.

The downturn was attributed to xenophobic fears of the novel coronavirus that was then racing through the Chinese city of Wuhan. It became a collapse in March, as public health restrictions shuttered restaurants, salons and retailers in many U.S. cities. By summer, even as some businesses partially recovered with relaxed public health restrictions and pandemic fatigue, the streets and shops of Chinatowns remained much quieter than those in surrounding metropolitan areas.

Now, as the country copes with a new surge of infections and braces for a second year of pandemic misery, business owners and community leaders fear that these historic entry points for Chinese and other Asian immigrants may never return to their pre-pandemic stature. Instead, the economic pain that Chinatowns are now enduring could be a glimpse of broader devastation to come. ..............(more)


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