Virus hits local economy

By Meg Hill

With politicians and economists predicting major hits for the Australian economy due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, local authorities are urging a proactive response.

Economists have warned of the impact on trade of industrial shutdowns in China, while the economy has already felt the impact of a travel ban stopping international students and workers, among other demographics, returning to Australia from Chinese New Year celebrations.

City of Melbourne councillors and staff took a trip to Chinatown on February 12 to dine with the community and highlight the low risk level in Melbourne.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said a number of businesses, especially those that catered to Chinese visitors, were experiencing a significant downturn in trade.

“We are working closely with these businesses to support them during this difficult period. We are also working on plans to support local businesses over the long term,” the Lord Mayor said.

Chinatown’s Shark Fin House closed indefinitely on February 9 after suffering a reported 80 per cent drop in customer numbers.

“We want to see people lining up to get a table at restaurants in Chinatown. I’m asking all locals to get out there and support our city businesses,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The expert advice we’ve received from health agencies regarding novel coronavirus is that there is no increased risk in Melbourne at this stage. There’s no reason for the general public to panic or change their normal activities or plans.”

“People are encouraged to follow the expert advice on the Department of Health and Human Services website”.

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