Summer at Bondi Beach is supposed to be a boon for bookshop cafe Gertrude and Alice.
Instead the store is losing money every day just by opening its doors.
With the number of COVID-19 cases in NSW skyrocketing amid the Omicron wave, the last two months have driven the business to the worst position it has ever been in, owner of 21 years Jane Turner says.
"We may as well be in lockdown," she told AAP.
The pandemic had already seen the store cut its opening hours in half, but the impact of the latest outbreak has meant it is often difficult to even staff those hours.
Half of her employees have been unable to work in recent weeks after catching COVID or becoming a close contact.
Her landlord and regular customers have been exceptionally generous, Ms Turner said, but support from the wider community has waned and people are very tentative to come out.
"The accountant's said you've probably got six months at this rate," she said.
"We've already ploughed through all our savings.
"We could walk away with nothing."
Staff are feeling the stress too. They are volunteering their own time to deliver pastry and book packs to people isolating just to help the family run business keep going.
Still, Ms Turner may have to lay some off next week, a thought that has been keeping her up at night crunching numbers.
Without government support, "It's just not looking great".
"I understand that government's not a bottomless pit ... no one wants our children to be paying off this huge debt," she said.
"And yet, it's a matter of, 'How do we keep these people employed?'."
It is a similar story for coffee roasters Mecca Coffee, which also runs two cafes.
One, in the heart of the "ghost town" that is Sydney's CBD, has stayed shut. The other, in the inner-city suburb of Alexandria, is not faring much better.
Its 50-to-60 seat dining space has been closed off, with a limited takeaway-only menu on offer.
"It almost feels a little bit worse than lockdown," head roaster Daniel May told AAP.
"Maybe that's just more of a psychological thing - knowing that you're able to be open, but having to close."
Staffing shortages and reduced patronage as people try to avoid the virus have left the cafe arm of the business struggling. The distribution side has been hard hit too.
"Cafes and bars are the pulse of the economy, and when they're quiet, we're quiet," Mr May said.
"That has a follow-on effect for us."
He too would like to see businesses, particularly those in hospitality, offered a bit more support.
The premier has for days promised help is on the way, saying the treasurer has been consulting with businesses and an announcement is imminent.
During the Delta lockdown in 2021, the state and federal government both chipped in for payments to businesses that lost more than 30 per cent of their turnover.
"We've always, as a government, prioritised support for businesses and our workers before the budget," Dominic Perrottet told reporters on Wednesday.
"I can assure business across the state, just like the last two years, we've got your back."
Australian Associated Press
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