Holbrook businesses are struggling to cope and have cut back staff hours, with COVID-19 lockdowns significantly reducing the number of motorists passing through town and the amount of money spent.
North East businesses have been under intense financial pressure for some time due to a series of state lockdowns, but the regional NSW Hume Highway businesses have said they are now in "no mans land" stuck between the "double whammy" of not one, but two states' lockdowns.
With both Greater Sydney and Victorian residents forced to stay at home, and with Canberrans unable to get to the Victorian snowfields, the Holbrook Bakery has been feeling the pinch.
Owners Brad and Lisa Wheeler said business had reduced significantly, but declined to answer exactly how much revenue they'd been missing compared to normal.
Mr Wheeler said business dropped when the Greater Sydney lockdown was introduced and dropped again when Victoria went into its fifth and current lockdown.
"With the Sydney side of things, we felt the effects of that over the last four weeks prior to Victoria's lockdown," he said.
He said there were less, if any, sporting teams and business people travelling through from Sydney to Melbourne.
"From top to the bottom, there's just no people about, except for the locals or the people working out here," he said.
When The Border Mail visited the bakery on Tuesday, the streets were empty, but for a few residents popping around town on apparent errands.
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Mrs Wheeler said they usually got "a huge amount of traffic" from Canberrans heading to the snowfields in winter, but with the ACT listed as a red-zone in Victoria, that business too had dropped off.
"The Victorian lockdown effects us more," she said.
"We're obviously in the bubble, but you still don't have that travel through."
Mr Wheeler said it had been frustrating.
"We're generally a busy shop and now we're not," he said.
The bakery has cut back staff hours due to the reduced number of customers.
Mrs Wheeler said they'd been trying to share shifts among everyone and match the hours to the expenses of each employee.
She said she understood that the government wasn't able to support people and businesses forever, but she was hopeful the business would receive some funding to get them through the tough period.
"There is some federal funding coming through too, which could help us out, especially with wages and things, but that's not until the end of the month," she said.
Holbrook The Ten Mile cafe owner Sarah King said she'd had a similar experience.
"We really didn't get our normal winter busy period," she said.
"Our mid term times are steady ... and then our normal holidays go to triple what we would normally do, but our June/July holidays really didn't take off at all, they just sort of tracked along as normal.
"When the shut downs really took place, we just went to zero."
She said Holbrook businesses were "absolutely reliant" on highway traffic for business.
"If Sydney and Melbourne can't move, we are impacted as equally as them," she said.
"I'm just concerned every time we go into holidays we get locked down, so for a highway town that relies on that trade, we may or may not see our true business returns for another, who knows, six, 12, or 18 months."
Ms King said she'd had a busy weekend with visitors from Wagga, Albury, Lockhart and the Upper Murray areas, but that the business couldn't rely on locals alone.
"Even regionally everyone has gone a bit quiet," she said.
"Today we should be relatively busy, but I think we've only done four coffees and few brekkys.
"You cant rely on locals, the reason these businesses work is the influx of traffic during the holidays.
"Then that floats you through the quiet time, but we just haven't had that real boom.
"Another six months of this and it's not worth being open really."
Ms King said she'd been prioritising giving shifts to older staff with families and investigating what support was available.
She is uncertain if the cafe would be eligible for government support because though it was experiencing the financial repercussions of the lockdown, being based in regional NSW the business was not technically in a lockdown itself.
"At this stage I just feel like we're in no mans land and we'll roll with the punches a bit," she said.
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