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Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson and Queens Chamber of Commerce Encourage New Yorkers to Visit Asian-American Owned Small Businesses

February 13, 2020

The Flushing Chinese Business Association estimates business is down 40 percent in the neighborhood, despite there being no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in New York City

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Corey Johnson, the Queens Chamber of Commerce, the Flushing Chinese Business Association, Administration officials and community leaders joined together today to declare Flushing, Queens open for business. Together, they encouraged New Yorkers to visit an Asian-American owned small business in their neighborhood.

“In hard times, New Yorkers know to stand by their neighbors,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re in Flushing today to embrace Asian-American owned small businesses and say to all New Yorkers: New York City’s Chinatowns are open for business!”

“It is important to support the Chinese community in New York City. Unfortunately many businesses and restaurants in Chinatown, Flushing and Sunset Park are suffering because some customers are afraid of the coronavirus. But those fears are not based on facts and science. The risk of infection to New Yorkers is low. There is no need to avoid public spaces. I urge everyone to dine and shop as usual,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.

The Mayor also met with business owners to hear about how fear of the Coronavirus has impacted them. The Flushing Chinese Business Association estimates that business is down up to 40 percent in the neighborhood, despite there being no known cases in New York City.

“As the world grapples with coronavirus, the de Blasio administration is waging the battle with facts, not fear,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Raul Perea-Henze. “Thanks to the work of our agencies, New York City is prepared for coronavirus and open for business. We stand with the Asian-American community and small business owners who make our neighborhoods prosperous and vibrant, and urge all New Yorkers to support these local institutions and reject stigma.”

“New York City’s Asian communities are a huge part of what makes our city great,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “There are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus at this time. This is a positive reminder that living in a city that makes it safe for everyone to seek care when you need it makes us stronger. We look forward to continuing to work with all New Yorkers to support one another and defend against discriminatory acts against our Chinese neighbors.”

“New York City is open for business and we will continue to stand with the vibrant Asian community that has long contributed to and supported our economy,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “There have been no confirmed cases of Coronavirus and anxieties should not deter New Yorkers from eating, shopping and enjoying the culture that this community has to offer.”

“Currently, the risk for novel coronavirus in New York City remains low, while our preparedness as a city remains high. There is no reason to avoid public settings, including subways and—most of all—our city’s famous Chinese restaurants and small businesses,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “While it is understandable for some New Yorkers to feel concerned about the novel coronavirus situation, we cannot stand for racist and stigmatizing rhetoric, or for myths and half-truths about the virus. The best precaution you can take is to practice what you would during any flu season: Wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and please stay home if you’re feeling unwell. The Health Department is committed to separating the facts from fear, and we encourage all New Yorkers to do the same.”

“Discrimination on the basis of race and national origin will not be tolerated in New York City” said Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights. “New Yorkers should not have to refrain from living their lives because of fear of discrimination. The New York City Commission on Human Rights encourages all New Yorkers to continue to enjoy all the vibrant offerings of the City’s Chinatowns, and if you experience or witness discrimination to report it by calling 311 and asking for Human Rights.”

“My message to people: come to Flushing! It is a dynamic and thriving community and it’s open for business,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng. “The area has so much to offer from fantastic restaurants and shops to exceptional markets and entertainment. Tourists and many from outside the area often come to Flushing to experience this outstanding food, culture and fun, and we want that to continue. Much of Flushing’s success is made possible by our small businesses, and as the daughter of local small business owners, I know firsthand the critical role that small businesses play in driving our economy, and enhancing our neighborhoods. Naturally, there is much concern about coronavirus. But we must not abandon our small businesses based on unfounded fears. As I have said, people must not panic about coronavirus. People should be vigilant and prudent but they should go about their regular routines, and that includes continuing to support the many wonderful small businesses that call Flushing home. I cannot wait to get back to Flushing when I return from Washington.” 

Council Member Peter Koo stated, “As Coronavirus, or COVID19, fears continue to linger, we are asking all New Yorkers to show your love for Flushing and dine out on Valentine’s Day. Our community has over 250 restaurants with the most diverse array of cuisines from all around the world. New Yorkers are renown for supporting each other during times of crisis, and with many restaurants reporting a 40% decline in business, we want to encourage everyone to visit Flushing. New York has zero cases of COVID19, and as long as we all continue to use proper precautions recommended by healthcare professionals, there is no reason to fear the delicious food in Flushing. Just remember some of it may be a little spicy!”

"As the oldest and largest business association in Queens, the Queens Chamber of Commerce is proud to stand here today with Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson, Councilmember Koo, and so many leaders from city government and Flushing business community to declare that Flushing is open for business. We encourage New Yorkers from all five boroughs to visit the neighborhood and discover the amazing small businesses that make Flushing such a vibrant community. Unsubstantiated fear around the Coronavirus has hurt commerce in the neighborhood, so we're asking that everyone show their love on Valentine's Day and dine out at one of Flushing's great restaurants tomorrow," said Thomas J. Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“The Chinese-American Planning Council is grateful that Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson, Council Member Koo, and city agencies like the New York City Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene are standing up for the Chinese American community. New Yorkers must recognize that the coronavirus is a public health issue, not a racial, ethnic, or immigrant issue,” said Wayne Ho, President & CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC). “Since the news of coronavirus has escalated, Chinese Americans have been hit hard by the dangerous ‘perpetual foreigner’ myth that already hurts our community. We have heard stories of Chinese restaurants having dinners canceled, Chinese stores being empty, Asian American community members having strangers isolate them in public spaces, and families fearful of bringing children to daycare in Asian American neighborhoods. We have a responsibility to make sure that we are reducing any bias that our community members experience.”

“As one of the leading healthcare providers and doctors who serve a majority of New York City’s immigrant Chinese and Chinese American population, SOMOS is working in coordination with the city’s health department and elected officials to ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” said Dr. Henry Chen, President of SOMOS. “Risks of infection in New York remains low, but I am gravely concerned by the increased xenophobia against the Asian American population in our city, specifically the Chinese community. When people play off stereotypes, it distracts from the real risks and can lead to misperception and misinformation about the source of the virus. We are grateful to stand with the Mayor, city elected officials and community leaders to ensure we eliminate any stigma with the virus, continue public outreach efforts, and educate the public of the real risks.”

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