Business NSW regional manager for Western NSW Vicki Seccombe has called on the government to better support battling businesses attempting to stay open in the wake of the current COVID-19 surge.
Unlike previous waves of the virus, there's been no lockdown for non-essential businesses as the Omicron variant surges through NSW.
On Tuesday, NSW Health reported more than 25,000 new cases across the state while there's been roughly 4000 new cases in the Western NSWLHD in the past week.
But no lockdown hasn't resulted in booming business, either, with isolation periods for workers deemed a close contact or for those who've contracted the virus putting immense stress on the business sector.
"It's been a really challenging Christmas and New Year period for businesses of all sizes across industries as they battled with staff becoming infected and isolating, and a lack of consumer confidence," Ms Seccombe.
"It was an imperfect storm as customers voted with their feet and stayed away from venues that would normally be thriving during the Summer break, and those that did attend were met with venues that were severely understaffed."
She said Business NSW has been working closely with the government on measures that can provide some swift and short-term support for businesses, at a time when they need it most.
Some of these "relief packages" include allowing all close contact employees to return to the workplace on the presentation of a negative rapid antigen test result, reducing the need for mandated periods of isolation;
Other measures like an extension of the SME Summer Stock Guarantee and an extension of the rent relief for commercial tenants who have and likely will have closed or ceased trade in the last month due to current COVID trade impacts, and the reinstatement of the Hardship Review Panel to assess business impacts into 2022.
"Vaccination is still a critical step we can all take for community safety, and booster shots are incredibly important against the Omicron variant," Ms Seccombe said.
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