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Boston launches campaign to support Chinatown amid infection fears

  • FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2016 file photo, a child pushes a stroller under a gate to Boston's Chinatown neighborhood. Officials in Boston are launching efforts to draw visitors back to Chinatown amid fears of a new Chinese virus that's sickened tens of thousands, including a college student in Boston. Mayor Marty Walsh launched a social media campaign Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 encouraging people to share photos of themselves supporting small businesses in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

  • FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2020 file photograph, members of Nam Pai Kung Fu Academy participate in Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in front of a business, in Boston's Chinatown neighborhood. Officials in Boston are launching efforts to draw visitors back to Chinatown amid fears of a new Chinese virus that's sickened tens of thousands, including a college student in Boston. Mayor Marty Walsh launched a social media campaign Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 encouraging people to share photos of themselves supporting small businesses in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Associated Press
Published: 2/16/2020 10:21:41 PM
Modified: 2/16/2020 10:21:39 PM

BOSTON — Boston is trying to throw some love to Chinatown amid concerns about a new Chinese virus that has sickened tens of thousands, including a college student in the city.

Mayor Marty Walsh launched a social media campaign Thursday encouraging people to share photos of themselves supporting small businesses in the neighborhood with the hashtag #LoveBostonChinatown.

The campaign includes a “small business bingo” card of things visitors can do in Chinatown, like trying dim sum, sipping on bubble tea, buying fresh pastries, checking out public art or taking a selfie in front of its signature gateway.

City leaders from Boston and nearby Quincy, which also has a sizeable Chinese community, hosted a dim sum brunch in Chinatown on Saturday.

And city health officials visited the neighborhood centers last week in an effort to dispel misconceptions about contracting the new coronavirus, which was officially dubbed COVID-19.

The virus has sickened tens of thousands, mostly in China.

Massachusetts has had one confirmed case, a University of Massachusetts Boston student who recently returned from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak.

State health officials have said the patient, who is in his 20s, is recovering at home.

Boston is among other cities, including New York and Chicago, that have rallied behind their Chinatowns in recent days.

In Massachusetts, officials say anxiety also has stirred up anti-Chinese sentiment, and the state restaurant industry says there has been a “sudden and swift ” decline in business at Chinese restaurants, not just in Chinatown.

Chinatown has been noticeably quieter, with far fewer college students and tourists, said Brian Moy, whose family owns China Pearl, billed as the state’s oldest active Chinese restaurant.

The annual Lunar New Year parade, which typically draws huge crowds and is a boon for restaurants, also was muted, despite good weather.

“We were filled, but it wasn’t like lines out the door,” Moy said. “You could still get a seat with little wait.”

Moy said he is trying to cut costs until things turn around.

“We’ve weathered storms before,” he said. “Who I feel bad for are the restaurant owners just starting out. It’s not easy or cheap to open a place these days.”




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