South Coast businesses have described how the growing number of positive COVID-19 cases and supply chain issues are making it difficult to keep operating as normal.
As at 8pm Monday, PCR tests revealed 205 new COVID cases in the Shoalhaven, with cases confirmed by Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) not included in these figures.
Scruples Hair and Beauty owner, Sandra Bayer, said four of her staff are off work due to isolation requirements, with the remaining eight staff in their own 'self-induced lockdown' so they can continue showing up to work.
"All we do is go to work and go home, we're not game enough to do anything social because we just can't risk that we won't be okay for work," said Sandra.
"Best case scenario is that we don't get (COVID), second best case scenario is that we get it at different times.
"There's no government assistance like JobKeeper now, so if the salon closes, it's our choice."
Sandra said the 'perfect storm' of waiting for PCR test results and the short supply of RATs makes it hard for staff to access the government's test and isolate payments.
"The trouble is they can't get it (payments) until their test results come back, so they're having to do without the money until then," said Sandra.
"They can't buy a rapid test because there's none around and if they're sick, they can't stand in a line up.
"I've had one staff member who needs two weeks off because she is too sick and now the rest of her family's got sick, so she'll need another week."
Sandra added supply chain issues are affecting stock levels, too, and that 30 per cent of appointments are being cancelled due to clients also required to isolate.
"It's not easy," said Sandra. "Our stock is coming in very slowly, we've got shortages on things we need to operate."
Decadence Cakes Gifts and Treats on Berry Street, Nowra, have also been hit by staff shortages and supply chain issues, and announced changes to their operation on social media on Monday.
"Web orders are currently closed...We are accepting minimal custom orders as this time, so please order early," a Facebook post read.
"No indoor seating for the time being. This is to keep our staff and customers and their families as safe as possible."
Shoalhaven Business Chamber president, Jemma Tribe, said the interruptions are another difficult obstacle for local businesses and encouraged workers required to isolate to apply for test and isolate payments.
"Businesses who are already struggling with staff shortages are making the difficult decision to decrease hours or close until further notice, particularly if their remaining staff have been considered a close contact and are required to isolate," said Mrs Tribe.
"While the test and isolate payments for workers are still available, most business COVID relief grants have closed."
Residents required to self-isolate and unable to work while waiting for test results can apply for the COVID-19 Test and Isolate Support Payment of $320 on Service NSW.
The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment of $750 for each 7 day period can also be applied for by residents who have been told to self-isolate, or are caring for someone who has COVID-19.
Mrs Tribe added the Shoalhaven Business Chamber supported proposed measures, including allowing close contact workers with a negative RAT result to return to work and the extension of grants for businesses, as short-term solutions.
"Business NSW has been advocating for some short-term support for businesses," said Mrs Tribe.
"They include allowing all close contact employees to return to the workplace on the presentation of a negative RAT, reducing the need for mandated periods of isolation.
"An extension of the SME Summer Stock Guarantee to allow impacted businesses to apply...if their business has been closed due to a case on their premises, leading to majority staff stand-down for more than 3 days and/or to abide by close contact instructions from NSW Health.
"An extension of the commercial rent relief for commercial tenants who have and likely will have closed or ceased trade between 15 December and 14 January due to current COVID trade impacts."
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