Mayor London Breed speaks alongside city officials and business leaders to launch the Chinatown Shop Local Campaign at KIM + ONO on Grant Avenue in Chinatown on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)

City leaders urge residents to keep shopping in Chinatown amid coronavirus concerns

San Francisco city leaders on Friday urged residents and visitors to continue shopping at Chinese-owned business and to reject xenophobia associated with fears of the novel coronavirus.

Mayor London Breed; city Supervisor Aaron Peskin; state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco; and Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco toured businesses in the Chinatown district to encourage residents to continue going about their daily lives, and assured them that no cases have been reported in the city so far.

Peskin said he wanted to ensure “that our economy remains robust and vital during the time of coronavirus,” also known as COVID-19.

“We will not tolerate rumors; we will not tolerate xenophobia; we will not tolerate racism in San Francisco. We are all in it together,” he said.

The renewed plea to support the city’s Chinese community comes just three days after Mayor Breed declared a local emergency in the city due to the virus, which broke out in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.

The virus has sickened 83,652 people worldwide and 2,858 people have died. Only 15 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., the World Health Organization reported Friday.

The mayor’s declaration is a precautionary measure, and allows the city to mobilize its resources and accelerate emergency planning.

“We don’t want the declaration of emergency to be used as something that it isn’t. It is really about ensuring the safety of our residents if a case happens in our city. And the fact is, we have been on this issue every single day from the moment it was brought to our attention,” Breed said.

“What I want people to do is I want them to enjoy the city. I want them to have a good time. I want them to support Chinatown. I want them to make sure that we don’t let something that is not at a state of alarm impact how we live our daily lives,” she said.

“Sadly, there’s been a lot of xenophobia as a result of what’s been happening. It’s impacted young people in our school system. It’s impacted elderly people and others throughout San Francisco,” she said.

Assemblyman Chiu said, “In the last couple weeks, I have been in contact with my counterparts: Asian American officials from Boston, from New York, from Los Angeles. We are all sharing experiences that we are seeing our Chinatowns decimated by the fear mongering, by the rumors of the impact of coronavirus.

“We’re here to say shop in Chinatown, eat in Chinatown, dine in Chinatown,” he said. “This is about people making an unconscious decision not to go into a particular neighborhood (because of Coronavirus).”

“There has been a downturn in business, but we’re all upbeat know that we’ll rise above,” said Tane Chen, who has owned The Wok Shop on Grant Avenue for nearly 50 years. “There’s no place in America that has a Chinatown like the one in San Francisco. So please, spread the word. It’s safe and we welcome you.”

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