Virus fears take a bite out of Valentine's profits - RTHK
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Virus fears take a bite out of Valentine's profits

2020-02-14 HKT 16:12
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  • A florist looks around for customers as businesses complain of a massive drop in profits from last Valentine's Day. Photo: RTHK
    A florist looks around for customers as businesses complain of a massive drop in profits from last Valentine's Day. Photo: RTHK
  • Another florist puts up a sign saying her flowers aren't imported from China, and 'cannot transmit the virus.' Photo: RTHK
    Another florist puts up a sign saying her flowers aren't imported from China, and 'cannot transmit the virus.' Photo: RTHK
It’s Valentine's Day… when love – or at least, ostentatious displays of affection – is in the air. And usually, florists have no trouble selling pricey bouquets of flowers to suitors desperate to make a show of their feelings for their significant others.

But love in the age of coronavirus is a little bit different… There’s more than a little bit of fear mixed into the elixir.

“Imported Valentine’s Day roses are not from mainland China” one sign hanging from the ceiling of one florist read. “They won’t transmit viruses”, it added.

Florist Tiffany Fong said she put up the sign at her shop at the flower market in Mong Kok, because “some of [my customers] do not like any products coming from China, and so we state clearly that they do not come from China.”

“Some people are also afraid of the virus, and we don’t want to spread panic”, she said.

Still, with schools and most public facilities closed, and many people working from home as the government preaches ‘social distancing’ as an effective weapon against coronavirus, the crowd was sparse in Mong Kok.

Another vendor, Mimi Cheng, complained that her business was down by around 70 percent this year compared with last.

And those who do buy bouquets, she grumbled, are trying to do so on the cheap.

“They asked for a big bunch of flowers at 200 dollars, and then kept bargaining! Isn’t it hilarious? I want to faint! My flowers aren’t free! I didn’t grow them!” she complained bitterly.

English teacher Michael, however, was happy with the bargain he got – a bunch of multi-coloured roses at HK$220.

Plus, he isn’t expecting to have any trouble finding seats at a nice restaurant for himself and his date tonight.

“I don’t think it’s going to be too busy tonight… I think a lot of people are staying home because of the coronavirus. Everybody is a little bit afraid. But I think it should still be fine, all the restaurants are still open.”