Three more Chinese restaurants have gone into liquidation as the coronavirus sales slump leaves traders unable to pay their bills.
Three more Chinese restaurants have gone into liquidation as the coronavirus sales slump leaves traders unable to pay their bills.

More Chinese restaurants go bust

Three more Chinese restaurants have gone into liquidation in Sydney after flatlining sales due to the coronavirus outbreak has forced other iconic venus to close their doors.

Old Town Hong Kong's two eateries, one on Dixon Street in the heart of Chinatown and the other on Barangaroo's swanky Mercantile Walk, were both placed into liquidation on Friday, along with another business owned by the same directors, Super Dish Chinese Restaurant in the largely Asian southwestern Sydney suburb of Cabramatta.

The Hong Kong-born owners have not stated a reason for the closure.

Timothy Cook from Balance Insolvency has been appointed liquidator of both Old Town Pty Ltd and SuperDish Pty Ltd "as the company is unable to pay its debts as and when they fall due", documents filed with the corporate regulator state.

Mr Cook has been contacted for comment on whether the directors attribute the failure of the businesses to coronavirus fears, which some Chinatown traders have blamed for revenue falls of 50 per cent or more.

Old Town Hong Kong had locations in Chinatown and Barangaroo.
Old Town Hong Kong had locations in Chinatown and Barangaroo.

It comes after the Parramatta Phoenix, part of the high-profile family-owned Phoenix Restaurant Group, was placed into voluntary administration on Tuesday. At the same time, Parramatta Phoenix Pty Ltd director Calvin Chen's other business, Darlinghurst Asian Fusion restaurant Mister Dee's Kitchen, was placed into liquidation.

"The director has indicated in initial discussions that one of the factors in the fall in turnover of the restaurants is a reaction to the coronavirus," Christopher Darin, partner at insolvency firm Worrells, said in a statement to news.com.au yesterday.

Insolvency firm Jirsch Sutherland says it is receiving up to a dozen calls a day to a dedicated coronavirus hotline for affected businesses, but expects that number to rapidly rise as many reach the end of their cash reserves over the next few weeks.

Jirsch Sutherland partner Andrew Spring said yesterday that while tourism, travel, retail, hospitality and IT were the most directly affected - the tourism sector alone faces billions of dollars in losses due to travel restrictions - the impacts were "far reaching" and often unexpected.

"There's a big crayfish and lobster industry up in WA that has basically been mothballed," he said. "And anecdotally some of the shipping lines are hurting off the back of an inability to land goods, particularly in China."

Parramatta Phoenix director Calvin Chen placed the business into voluntary administration.
Parramatta Phoenix director Calvin Chen placed the business into voluntary administration.

Former Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, who now heads BizRebuild, a group started by the Business Council of Australia to assist businesses in bushfire-affected areas, this morning indicated support could be extended to those affected by coronavirus.

"What we're doing here is a race against time and despair," he told 2GB.

"So there's been a sense that obviously some businesses lock up and walk away. And our job is to prevent that, whatever the reason, because we're talking about a series of communities which have taken a real belt across the back of the head from natural disaster. And if viruses and the like mean that tourism is even less likely to occur, then we're really racing the situation as distinct from the vector of damage."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hinted a stimulus package is in the works.

"It will be a targeted plan. It will be a measured plan. It will be a scalable plan. It will be targeted on the real diagnosis of the economic issue we are looking to confront here," he told reporters today.

This afternoon, the Reserve Bank slashed the cash rate by 25 basis points to a new record low of 0.5 per cent in a bid to head off the damage. "It is too early to tell how persistent the effects of the coronavirus will be and at what point the global economy will return to an improving path," RBA governor Philip Lowe said.

 

CORONAVIRUS IN AUSTRALIA

• Australia has had 33 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

• Fifteen of the 33 cases were either Chinese tourists or residents recently returned from China. All 15 have cleared the virus.

• Ten of the 33 were infected after travelling on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Six of those 10 have cleared the virus and have left hospital.

• One of the 10 from the ship - 78-year-old James Kwan - died in a Perth hospital on Sunday. It was the first coronavirus death in Australia.

• Six other cases involve people recently returned from Iran.

• The final two cases are Australia's first person-to-person transmissions. One is a Sydney doctor, the other the sister of an infected man who recently returned from Iran. Neither recently travelled overseas.

PERSON-TO-PERSON TRANSFER

• Authorities don't yet know if the Sydney doctor was infected in a work or community setting.

• They are rushing to track down everyone he has had contact with.

• The infection pathway for the woman is more clear. Her brother recently returned from Iran and has also been diagnosed with the virus.

TASMANIA'S FIRST CASE

• Tasmania also confirmed its first case on Monday - a 40-year-old man who recently returned from Iran tested positive.

NEW GOVERNMENT POWERS

• Australians who test positive for coronavirus could be legally detained and questioned over their travel and contact history under biosecurity laws.

• Attorney-General Christian Porter told parliament the laws could also bar people or large groups going to shopping centres, schools or work.

TRAVEL BANS

• Travel bans are in place for people travelling from China and Iran.

• Advice for Australian travellers to Italy has been upgraded, reflecting the outbreak in the Lombardy region.

GLOBAL IMPACT

• Sixty countries have been impacted by the virus, which first emerged in Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei province in December.

• There have been 88,000 confirmed cases, mostly in China, and 2980 deaths.

HEALTH

• COVID-19 is a respiratory illness accompanied by fever, coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath and fatigue. It can produce pneumonia.

• It's spread by close contact with or cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person.

• Protective measures include washing your hands, and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

• People who have been in contact with someone confirmed to have coronavirus must self-isolate for 14 days from the time they were in contact with that person.

• If you think you need to see a doctor, ring ahead so precautions can be taken and wear a mask to your appointment.

- Tracey Ferrier, AAP