New spending records will be harder to attain this year. Among the film debuts postponed on Thursday was “Boonie Bears: The Wild Life,” a cartoon about clever bears who clash with a hapless logger. In a message to fans on its social media account, the production company wrote, “We don’t want to see audience friends take any health risks,” adding that it did not want to “see that the epidemic may spread further.”
Other businesses in some parts of China have been temporarily closed. Major airlines, including Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, have restricted flights to Wuhan. Companies urged employees to wear masks and not to travel.
Companies that were still offering services urged caution. Didi Chuxing, China’s equivalent to Uber, sent a message to passengers saying that “due to the virus, for the health and safety of everyone, both drivers and passengers should wear face masks.”
Hong Kong, the semiautonomous Chinese city that has roiled with anti-Beijing protests, could sustain yet another blow. The region is already in an economic recession after over half a year of antigovernment protests.
“If you look at those sectors of the economy, the retail and local businesses, they have already been sadly bruised by the protests last year,” said Tara Joseph, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. “This would just be an extra kick in the teeth that they don’t need.”
But, she added, “it’s too early to panic.”
Cao Li contributed research.