A local ramen restaurant in Hong Kong refused to serve customers from mainland China amid the coronavirus outbreak, following the example of more than 100 other restaurants in the city-state.

"The reason was that at the time of the outbreak of the coronavirus, [Chief Executive] Carrie Lam did not close the border to safeguard ourselves. As a small business, I can only stick a note on the door: 'Mainlanders are not welcome'," said the manager of the restaurant, Wong, on Saturday.

According to reports, more than 100 businesses in Hong Kong have been posting messages on their social media accounts or displaying notices at their premises to ban Mandarin speakers.

The Society for Community Organisation, a human rights group, reportedly denounced such measures and accused outlets' owners of racial discrimination.

However, Wong said the decision not to welcome mainland customers was driven mainly with his business interests: "If a person infected with coronavirus comes in here, we can open it again after 14 days, but you know, Hong Kong is a small place, no one comes again if they know the news."

"Some people say I’m spreading racial hatred. In fact, it is the same measure as other countries do, like blocking and keeping you from entering," he further added.

According to the latest report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least 98,000 people worldwide have been infected by the COVID-19 virus so far, and over 3,300 people have lost their lives.

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Associated Press 11 May 2020 11:44 CEST

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