Iranian businesses in Toronto are now being unfairly targeted over coronavirus
At least one Iranian business in Toronto has recently become the target of rumours and discrimination in the face of global panic over the novel coronavirus.
Iran has become a new hotspot for the communicable virus, with the highest number of cases and deaths outside of mainland China and South Korea — nearly 3,000 reported COVID-19 infections and 92 deaths from it thus far.
As outbreaks continue to spread from the virus's epicentre in Wuhan, China, Chinese businesses across the world have been suffering. Chinatowns all over Canada have seen a dramatic decline in foot traffic, while Chinese restaurants in Toronto cite a decrease in customers and instances of straight-up xenophobia.
Now, it seems some Iranian businesses are encountering the same problem.
Khorak Supermarket, a long-running Iranian grocery store just south of Steeles on Yonge Street in North York, had to take to social media to dispel rumours connecting the establishment to the novel illness.
People had apparently been circulating false accounts that customers and/or staff of the store had been infected — accounts that took hold in the wake of the news that a number of Canada's latest cases of COVID-19 have been in individuals who recently travelled to Iran.
Ironically enough, Khorak actually has more extensive preventive cleaning measures in place than most Toronto businesses, with security guards offering hand sanitizer and plastic gloves to every incoming customer.
Staff, all donned in masks and gloves, have also regularly been wiping down surfaces like shopping cart handles with disinfectant wipes.
Owner Sam Fayaz told CityNews that it seems some are "trying to instill fear into people and tell them not to go to certain businesses," which he finds extremely unfair.
As he posted on Khorak's Facebook account, "Lies and rumours end up hurting small businesses and in turn hurt the economy."
It is unclear whether the business's extra levels of caution actually contributed in some way to the rumours, but as Fayaz said to the news outlet, "We haven't had any issues but are taking every precautionary measure because we understand that we're a business and we're open to the public. Anything is possible."
Hopefully Khorak and any other businesses now being unfairly victimized due to coronavirus fears will receive the same support from the Toronto community that some Asian eateries saw after they reported their own loss of business because of the illness and the misinformation surrounding it.
Jesse Milns at Khorak Supermarket
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