It’s often observed that epidemics spread fear and prejudice as well as diseases. That may be why more than 100 local restaurants are refusing to serve people from the mainland during the coronavirus outbreak, according to social service group the Society for Community Organisation. Someone ought to disabuse such eateries of their stupidity and ignorance. The current outbreak of the novel coronavirus has long entered the phase of community spread, meaning locals are infecting locals as they have not travelled to the mainland and have no known contact with any mainland source. For example, 11 family members were infected after having a hotpot dinner in Kwun Tong together, and two work colleagues of infected family members were later tested positive for virus, which causes the disease Covid-19. There was another outbreak at a Tsing Yi public housing block where infection was thought to have spread among tenants because of altered bathroom pipes. The most recent cases have been spread locally. Imported ones have been recent evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was used to quarantine its passengers and crew in Japan. Early last month, Hong Kong University microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung warned the city was facing a community outbreak, rather than a spread from the mainland. One reason is the draconian measures restricting mainlanders from travelling, including to the city. So, if local restaurant owners think they are saving themselves and others by turning away mainlanders, they are seriously misguided. They and their staff and customers are far more likely to catch the disease from fellow Hongkongers. Scores of Hong Kong restaurants ‘refuse to serve mainlanders’ amid coronavirus Of course, no logical or medical arguments will convince those who just don’t want to serve those from the mainland. For such people, the outbreak is no more than an excuse. Though the SoCo survey does not have a breakdown of how many of those 100-plus restaurants belong to the so-called yellow-ribbon economy, a fair number of them probably do. Such places have made it known that they only want to serve anti-government protesters and other like-minded people. Threatening them with anti-discrimination laws is ineffective. The Race Discrimination Ordinance outlaws discrimination, harassment and vilification against a person on the basis of their race only. Hong Kong Chinese discriminating against mainland Chinese may be repugnant but, sadly, there is not much we can do about it.