‘Business as usual’ in Chinatown despite coronavirus concerns

Restaurants in London’s Chinatown area enjoyed business as usual on Saturday night, as tourists and diners said they would not let coronavirus “stop them living their lives”.

Many excited tourists stopped to take selfies among the bold red paper lanterns in the brightly-lit street, while restaurants were full and revellers appeared merry.

Some pedestrians were wearing face masks but, according to a local Chinese businessman, it is “standard practice” to do so and guards against any illness from coronavirus to a common cold.


Eric Minter, 24, a telecoms regulatory manager from Tottenham, north London – who visits the hotspot in the heart of the West End several times a year, said: “It is not a ghost town. It looks as busy as normal.”

A Chinese restaurant owner, who did not want to be named, said that his company had received a normal level of business for a Saturday night.

On the wearing of face masks, he added: “If you have a common cold you just wear it to protect yourself and anyone else. It is not about some sort of virus, it is about being safe.”

Martin Phoenix, 25, a commercial telecoms manager from Brent Cross, was headed for a meal on a night out with friends.

He said: “I do not really think about it. I think it is one of those things that you are either going to get or not, and staying indoors is not the answer.

“It cannot stop you from living your life because at the end of the day, it is something that is going to be quarantined properly or something may happen so you have to deal with it on a more personal level.

“It looks pretty busy to me.”


The outbreak has seen 259 deaths in China, where there is also more than 11,700 known cases.

Andrew Opie, the British Retail Consortium’s director of food and sustainability, said: “Retailers monitor all of their supply chains for possible disruption, which includes the potential impacts of coronavirus.

“Retailers are adept at coping with disruption in the supply chain, including securing alternative suppliers and delivery routes.

“When circumstances are beyond retailers’ control, they will adapt to ensure consumers are not impacted.”