COVID-19: Fear and its economic impact in London
LONDON, ONT. -- For some Londoners, fears of the coronavirus are enough to keep them from travelling.
“Yes, I’m not leaving London any time soon”, Kevin Benoit tells CTV News, adding “I think there is a lot of unknowns. They don't know how it's transmitted. It's not worth the risk."
On Monday, the area's medical officer of health stated the risk of a coronavirus outbreak remains low, adding those who may be stockpiling supplies don’t need to take that step yet.
Those comments, from Dr. Chris Mackie of the Middlesex-London Health Unit, contradict those of the federal health minister, who last week said a “week or so” of supplies isn’t a bad idea.
At grocery stores CTV News visited in London on Tuesday, most areas were well stocked, save for a few cleaning products in high demand. Those included disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.
Outside the Bradley Avenue Food Basics location, Lois Rodriguez had two carts full of supplies, but she said they were not because of coronavirus, which she believes isn’t a threat to this region.
“I don't think it is in London," Rodriguez states.
But an unfortunate threat has arisen – again – in the Forest City, directly from COVID-19.
Just weeks after the owners of an Asian supermarket spoke with CTV News about losses from coronavirus misinformation, several Chinese and Asian restaurants says their businesses continue to be impacted.
One business owners say it amounts to a drop between 10 and 20 per cent.
Another operator, Tay Thai, who owns Asian Wok on Commissioners Road East, says his colleagues in London believes much of the – unjustified - fear centres around some international students.
He says some arrive to dine with a mask on, sparking concern from other patrons.
"Then they would ask, how come this person has a mask on, are they infected?"
Thai says that response isn’t just or fair, as many people wear masks in response to the real concern family members may be facing, currently, in areas far from London.
As was the case with the supermarket, Thai now hopes Londoners will educate themselves and return to fully support the impacted businesses.
School trips cancelled
The Thames Valley District School Board meanwhile has cancelled school trips to mainland Europe scheduled to take place in March.
In a letter sent to parents the board says the growing number of COVID-19 cases are to blame.
It reads in part, "Students are entitled to this experience without threat to their health and well-being, and Thames Valley regrets the disappointment that may be caused by this development."
The board says it has been assured parents will be reimbursed for trip costs, less the $388 for insurance and the deposit.