The latest deadly car attack in Melbourne’s CBD has stirred up traumatic memories of the 2017 Bourke Street rampage for local traders, who fear people will avoid the city.

Many businesses in Chinatown experienced a significant drop in weekend trade after a vehicle was driven into cars and pedestrians on Friday.

A 76-year-old Brunswick man was killed and five other people injured in the carnage.

The 26-year-old driver, Zain Khan, has been charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder.

“Especially in the aftermath of COVID-19, we were already struggling in the city (to get) people coming back,” Ngoc Le from the Melbourne Chinatown Business Association told AAP on Monday.

“Now that we’re eventually getting more people back in the city, this happens.

“(Traders) are worried, obviously. They don’t know how long this is going to last.”

Among the Chinatown traders concerned about the decline in business was Andy Chen, the owner of the Shanghai Village restaurant.

Businesses were anxious over the weekend and fear a significant drop in customers, he told the association.

The group wants the City of Melbourne and state government to explore what more can be done to avoid deadly incidents in the CBD, including more frequent police patrols.

“(The 2017 attack) was a while ago, but still, it just seems like it was yesterday,” Ms Le said.

“These incidents really do play on your mind; you can’t help but be a bit paranoid and anxious.”

Six people died and 27 were injured when James Gargasoulas ploughed into them after driving into Bourke Street Mall in January 2017.

In December that same year, a driver rammed pedestrians crossing on the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth streets killing an elderly man and injuring 17 others.

Hassan Khalif Shire Ali parked his ute on Bourke Street in November 2018 and set it alight before stabbing three people, killing Melbourne cafe owner Sisto Malaspina, in a terror attack.

The president of the City Precinct small business trade association, Chloe Beevers, said the latest Bourke Street incident brought back memories of the deadly 2017 attack.

“(Friday’s incident) is shocking, having been there to witness those previous incidents,” Ms Beevers told AAP.

“Businesses work very hard to make the city a safe space that people enjoy visiting … they are on the front lines.

“It is concerning and obviously distressing to everybody, including people who are visitors to the city, residents, and those who are running businesses who are worried for their own safety.”

Ms Beevers, who runs the CBD-based event business Curate Space, said bollards installed following the 2017 attack had improved traders’ sense of safety.

She said the incident showed more needed to be done to ensure people received adequate mental health support given the alleged attacker was known to police because of mental health concerns.

Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan denied Bourke Street has an image problem after the high-profile incidents, declaring it is a safe place.

“We have had some obviously distressing incidents – one-off incidents – in the last few years but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that the CBD is a really important part at the heart of our city,” she told reporters.

Premier Daniel Andrews has suggested there is nothing more the government can do to protect CBD pedestrians, but said it would consider any recommendations made by a coronial inquest into the latest death.

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Source: AAP