Philadelphia Fed: 'Unfounded fears' harming city's 'Asian restaurants and shops'

Philadelphia Fed: 'Unfounded fears' harming city's 'Asian restaurants and shops'
© Getty

Asian businesses in Philadelphia are suffering from a sharp drop in business over “unfounded fears” linked to the coronavirus outbreak, the city’s Federal Reserve Bank revealed in a Wednesday report.

In the Fed system’s monthly overview of regional economic activity, officials from Philadelphia Fed bank said “local customers have been avoiding some of Philadelphia’s Asian restaurants and shops” amid rising anxiety about the spreading coronavirus.

Businesses that offer food or products from Asia, particularly China, have already taken deep losses due to wrongful assumptions about the risk of contracting the virus. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Chinese stores and restaurants across the world have reported a steep decline in sales that began as the COVID-19 coronavirus began spreading beyond China, where it is believed to have originated. People of Asian descent have also documented a sharp rise in racist and xenophobic attacks linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

Public health officials have vehemently rejected that there is any heightened risk of contracting the coronavirus from someone of Chinese or Asian descent and have warned against the danger of stigmatizing ethnic groups.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that “People — including those of Asian descent — who have not recently been in an area of ongoing spread of COVID-19 or been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.”

The CDC added that “Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also warned against stigmatizing countries, regions and ethnic groups while naming and assessing the risk of new infectious diseases.

Beyond the unique toll on Asian businesses, several Fed branches on Wednesday reported rising concerns about the toll of the virus, especially among small and medium-sized firms with tight profit margins and smaller staffs.

Economists have grown increasingly concerned that supply chain disruption, sharp declines in travel and tourism, social withdrawal and fading consumer confidence driven by the virus outbreak could slump the global economy.