On any given day Chinatown is usually bustling with tourists and Sydneysiders stopping in for lunch or dinner but in the last few weeks it has become a ghost town.
There have now been 13 confirmed cases of the virus in Australia, with more than 24,5000 cases worldwide and 493 deaths.
Since news of the virus broke and started to gain global attention, a number of businesses in some of Sydney’s busiest suburbs have started to suffer.
RELATED: Aussies sick with virus on cruise ship
RELATED: Chinese students angry over Australia’s travel ban
Kirk Canda who sells Korean Macarons in Market City shopping centre in Haymarket told news.com.au that the lack of customers is hurting businesses all throughout the mall.
“There has been a huge downturn in business. We are a few weeks in since knowing about the virus and it has really slashed our business in half, if not more,” he said.
“We just thought maybe the buzz had gone with our product but I have spoken to other businesses around us and they are feeling the same thing. It’s normally not this quiet and everyone is definitely sensing it is from the outbreak of the coronavirus.”
Mr Canda said sales at his business, Fatcaron, had been cut by about 65 per cent since news of the virus broke.
“A lot of people are staying away from congested areas and, I would hate to say it, but where there is a lot of Chinese people,” he said.
“Normally the food court in Market City would be flooded every day during lunch time and now you see all just empty seats.”
One of the people who works in the food court, Danny, said on a regular day the food court would be “packed” but that wasn’t the case anymore.
“We have had a drop on revenue. Most of the businesses in this area have had the same result from the virus,” he said.
“I think at this stage people are just not that comfortable coming to this area.”
An employee at the Chatime bubble tea outlet in the shopping centre said it was “sad” that this was the way people were responding to the outbreak.
“It is kind of sad to see people overreacting and the racist comments being made as well. It is ridiculous,” she said.
She said if the downturn in business continues it would likely start affecting her and other employee’s hours.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Saturday that there would be a travel ban imposed from China.
The ban means all non-Australians travelling from mainland China will be barred entry at the border in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
China’s deputy ambassador to Australia, Wang Xining, said Beijing was “not happy” with the decision.
“We hope their rights and interests will be safeguarded, including proper extension of visas if the validity is over,” he said.
“And also maybe proper compensation for some of the financial losses during this period.”
Many of the businesses that have been losing revenue as a result of the virus fears believe this travel ban will also have an impact.
Alan Chu, grandson of the owner of Mother Chu’s restaurant in Chinatown, told news.com.au that a lot of their business comes from tourism.
“There are a lot of students that haven’t come back from overseas and now the tourism from China has been stopped. When the strip is busy it is usually mainly full of tourists,” he said.
“When Chinese people come from overseas this is usually one of the first places they visit.”
Mr Chu said the restaurant has seen up to a 60 per cent loss in revenue and they have had to cut down their opening hours due to the lack of customers.
“It has really affected not just us but the entire strip. What used to be a busy morning is more a quiet morning now. Usually lunch time is a very busy time for us but now customers are virtually just gone,” he said.
“Usually we stay open all day but because there is virtually no one coming in the afternoon we have decided to close for a few hours. It has been quite a big impact,” said Ms Chu.
“There are only very minuscule blocks of time that there are people coming in but besides that there is virtually no one.”
Traders in Chinatown will hope that coronavirus crisis blows over soon, or there businesses may become another victim of the outbreak.