Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp has called on residents and visitors to roll through the city’s Chinatown district, saying there’s no reason to avoid the business and dining hub amid the global coronavirus crisis.

In other words, the council is actually urging you to smash some dumplings, hot pot, and other go-to goodies, as if you didn’t already have reason to do so.

“We know that a number of businesses in the CBD are experiencing a significant downturn in trade – particularly those businesses that cater to Chinese visitors to Melbourne,” the Lord Mayor said in a statement.

“We want to see people lining up again to get a table at restaurants in Chinatown,” she added.

“I’m asking all locals to get out there and support our city businesses.”

Her call for community support comes during a period of suppressed trading in the region, which restaurateurs have linked to misplaced community fears over the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The virus has infected an estimated 45,000 people globally, with the majority of infections located in China. The illness has taken an estimated 1,100 lives.

Four cases of the virus have been confirmed in Victoria. Speaking to The Age, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said three of those people have already recovered, while the fourth is likely to be discharged from hospital in the coming days.

“That effectively means that there is no one we’re aware of in Victoria who can transmit to anyone else,” he said.

Despite Sutton’s earlier declaration “we should all go about our lives as normal”, at least one popular Chinatown restaurant has been forced to close.

Speaking to The Age, Shark Fin House co-owner Gabriel Chan said he shuttered the longstanding Little Bourke Street eatery on Sunday after an 80% drop-off in trade.

“We’re very sad, very unhappy, but we still have to work, so I would tell the people don’t scare, come to [sister restaurant Shark Fin Inn], support us,” he said.

The Lord Mayor said the council is working with impacted businesses during this “difficult period.”

“The expert advice we’ve received from health agencies regarding novel coronavirus is that there is no increased risk in Melbourne at this stage,” she added.

“There’s no reason for the general public to panic or change their normal activities or plans.”

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