Wales

Coronavirus: Aberystwyth market trader 'asked to leave'

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Media captionSu Chu Lu says she is "not a virus" and is hurt by the comments

A woman was asked to leave her market stall after returning from a holiday in Taiwan over coronavirus fears.

Su Chu Lu, who changed her plans to visit China after the outbreak, said she was "not a virus" and was hurt by the incident.

Ms Lu, 54, was opening her Aberystwyth Market Hall stall when three other traders told her to leave the building and quarantine herself, she said.

The market hall said it was a "minority" of traders.

One trader, who did not wish to be named, said stall holders who had not been responsible for the confrontation had received abusive comments and letters accusing them of racism.

Some traders have hung "I support Su Chu Lu" posters at the entrances to their stalls following the incident on Saturday, including David Gilbert who said the situation had been "dreadful".

"I immediately gave Su Chu Lu my continued support... this has been caused by a minority in the market hall," he added.

Ms Lu said: "It's over 1,000km to Taiwan overseas but the lady [one of those who confronted her] said 'that's close too'.

"I wanted to go inside to speak to the man [another trader], he locked the door and wouldn't let me in, but that's his property, he has the freedom to reject me.

"The next day traders made comments I should stay home, so I stayed home. And my first day back I came inside to get ready and a man straight away asked me to leave this building and he said 'you might put everybody at risk'."

Ms Lu said she again made clear she had not been to China.

Image caption Su Chu Lu has had her stall in Aberystwyth for 15 years

"I said 'no, you have no right to ask me to leave, I'm not leaving this building unless police or any authority come to force me to'," she said.

"I was really upset it was very emotional and upsetting, and I'm angry."

Ms Lu, who has had her stall for 15 years, said she kept explaining she had been to her birth country of Taiwan where there had been just 10 confirmed cases of the virus, but said the traders would not believe her.

She said they claimed a meeting had been held to decide not to allow Ms Lu into the building, however other traders told BBC Wales they were not aware of any such meeting - and again it was "a minority" who confronted Ms Lu.

'I heard the shouting'

"There are so many cases of the virus in the rest of this world, so why did this trader target me? I have no doubt it is because of my nationality, because of my skin colour, that's what makes me deeply unhappy about this," Ms Lu said.

"I think they assume I have gone to China but I didn't go, and they still didn't believe me, I don't know if they believe me now.

"Let's erase this unhappy issue, I can completely forgive these traders who are against me right now, I don't want this issue to carry on happening and bring hate, I want everybody to get along well again because we are in a small community, there is no need for more hate in our society."

Fellow market trader Ashanti Snow said: "I heard the shouting, I felt it was wrong, they were discriminating.

"I am supporting [her], I don't like discrimination in any way."

'Not meant to be racist'

A trader who did not wish to be named said: "If she had been to London or France and there had been an outbreak there it would have been the same.

"It's not something we're all involved in, and I don't think it was handled the best way but not ever intended to be racial.

"There's always two sides to a story, Su is obviously upset but perhaps it's been taken in the wrong spirit. I do agree it's not been handled right and I'm worried about our safety if people think it's all of us.

"Not all of the traders are involved but the ones that are, I still don't think they're racist."

Image caption Market traders have put up signs supporting Su Chu Lu

A statement on the market hall's Facebook page posted by one of the stall holders, which has since been deleted, said some traders have health conditions which mean any flu virus could have serious consequences, and believing Ms Lu planned to visit China they asked if she had considered taking steps to self-quarantine.

"We cannot emphasise enough that there is nobody in the Market Hall who is racist and Su's nationality has no bearing whatsoever on the issue. We sincerely apologise that our concern has been misunderstood," it said.

A meeting is being held on Tuesday to address the issue.

The UK government advice is for anyone returning from Wuhan or Hubei Province to stay indoors, and anyone travelling from elsewhere in China is advised only to stay indoors if they are showing symptoms.

There are more than 17,000 confirmed cases of the virus in China. Some 361 people have died there.

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