(Image: Melbourne’s Chinatown in busier times \ Getty Images)

A popular Chinatown restaurant has been forced to close amid fears about the spread of novel coronavirus.

Shark Fin House has been a favourite lunch spot for politicians, business-people, celebrities and locals for more than 30 years.

But on Sunday, the restaurant closed its doors to the public — most likely for good — because of dwindling customer numbers.

Co-owner Gabriel Chan has told The Age patronage has dropped by 80 percent since news of the coronavirus outbreak, prompting staff to be let go.

He is pleading with the public to support the restaurant’s sister establishment, Shark Fin Inn, which is also threatened with closure.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has called for calm around the novel coronavirus situation, saying Chinatown is open for business.

Earlier this week, City Of Melbourne councillor Nick Reece questioned both the media and government reaction to the virus.

Mr Reece, who was about to join councillors in Little Bourke St to support the traders, told Neil Mitchell there’s a level of “hysteria” about the illness that isn’t justified.

“Let me start by saying that you probably need to exercise the precautionary principle in these things – better to be safe than sorry,” Cr Reece said.

“But I also think there is quite a lot of media hysteria going on around the place and I do think we are seeing an overreaction by government, not just in Australia, but around the world.”

Councillor questions ‘hysteria’ in media and government about Coronavirus