Chinatown in Chicago was hit first and hard by the coronavirus. Not so much by the virus itself, but fear of the unknown. Masks had sold out and Lunar New Year events were already canceled by the time the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the city was announced on Jan. 24. Data now shows confirmed cases have remained relatively low in the Chinatown area compared with ZIP codes with the highest numbers in Chicago.
Business has still dropped dramatically. Most restaurants have tried to stay open — some never stopped serving bubble tea, bao and dumplings for takeout and delivery. The few bars — all karaoke — went dark until recently. Less than half of the restaurants have reopened for indoor dining and hardly any have room for outdoor dining.
As restaurants and bars across the city reopened indoor service four weeks ago, Chinatown has remained cautious. Owners, employees