SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco city leaders on Friday urged residents and visitors to continue shopping at Chinese-owned business and to reject xenophobia associated with fears of the novel coronavirus.

Mayor London Breed; city Supervisor Aaron Peskin; Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco; and Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco toured businesses in the Chinatown district to encourage residents to continue going about their daily lives, and assured them that no cases have been reported in the city so far.

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Peskin said he wanted to ensure “that our economy remains robust and vital during the time of coronavirus,” also known as COVID-19.

“We will not tolerate rumors; we will not tolerate xenophobia; we will not tolerate racism in San Francisco. We are all in it together,” he said.


The renewed plea to support the city’s Chinese community comes just three days after Mayor Breed declared a local emergency in the city due to the virus, which broke out in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.

“We’re all worried about going out,” Cynthia Rantisi, of San Francisco, told KPIX. “It’s scary out there. You hear about all these deaths every day and people are really scared to be out there with the coughing and the sneezing. Like, nobody knows what can happen,” she added.

The World Health Organization said earlier this week the risk of the new coronavirus expanding worldwide is “very high.” There are now more than 85,000 cases worldwide – most of them in China, where the virus originated — and more than 2,900 deaths.

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The mayor’s declaration was a precautionary measure which allows the city to mobilize its resources and accelerate emergency planning.

“We don’t want the declaration of emergency to be used as something that it isn’t. It is really about ensuring the safety of our residents if a case happens in our city. And the fact is, we have been on this issue every single day from the moment it was brought to our attention,” Breed said.

“What I want people to do is I want them to enjoy the city. I want them to have a good time. I want them to support Chinatown. I want them to make sure that we don’t let something that is not at a state of alarm impact how we live our daily lives,” she said.

“Sadly, there’s been a lot of xenophobia as a result of what’s been happening. It’s impacted young people in our school system. It’s impacted elderly people and others throughout San Francisco,” she said.

Assemblyman Chiu said, “In the last couple weeks, I have been in contact with my counterparts: Asian American officials from Boston, from New York, from Los Angeles. We are all sharing experiences that we are seeing our Chinatowns decimated by the fear mongering, by the rumors of the impact of coronavirus.

“We’re here to say shop in Chinatown, eat in Chinatown, dine in Chinatown,” he said. “This is about people making an unconscious decision not to go into a particular neighborhood (because of coronavirus).”

“There has been a downturn in business but we’re all upbeat know that we’ll rise above,” said Tane Chen, who has owned The Wok Shop on Grant Avenue for nearly 50 years. “There’s no place in America that has a Chinatown like the one in San Francisco. So please, spread the word. It’s safe and we welcome you.”

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