Coronavirus concerns cancel Chinese New Year celebrations in Palo Alto

At least two Chinese New Year celebrations in Palo Alto have been canceled because of concerns about the coronavirus and out of an abundance of caution.

Amy Andonian had high hopes for her nonprofit’s Chinese New Year celebration. She is president and CEO of Palo Alto-based Avenidas, which serves seniors.  

The party was expected to draw 200 people to the Cubberly Community Center on Thursday for lion dancing, storytelling and fun.

The props and decorations won't be brought out and neither will the tables and chairs in the room where the event was supposed to be held. The nonprofit decided to cancel earlier this week.

“We had a number of our seniors coming to us expressing concern about having so many people in a relatively tight space indoors and not feeling comfortable knowing the coronavirus was going around,” said Andonian.

County health officials said the risk for contracting the coronavirus is minimal with no confirmed cases to date in the Bay Area. The nonprofit didn't want to take any chances.

The decision comes after the City of Palo Alto canceled its large Lunar New Year celebration scheduled for mid-February due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus 

“Everyone is saying it's a good decision to cancel,” said Client Quin Ping who lives in Mountain View.

Ping is from Shanghai and is concerned about family back home.

80-year-old Ron Fung is visiting the Bay Area. He and his wife were planning to fly back to China in two weeks. Their trip is now postponed until further notice.

“The Chinese marketplace is also a very large market globally for our companies, so this is a very real impact,” said Peter Leroe-Munoz of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

According to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, at least 10 Silicon Valley companies are restricting travel to China and have asked employees who have recently been there to work remotely from home for at least 14 days.

“At this point it's too early to estimate what that economic impact is and is going to be,” said Leroe-Munoz. “That is why companies are so concerned about taking precautionary measures to keep their employees and families safe.”