Mark Gillett is in despair.
On Tuesday morning, there were 26 children in his Teddybears Childcare Centre in Curtin.
Normally, there are 70 and that's the break-even point for his business.
One of the tragedies of the resulting financial problem, he said, is that many of his 55 workers have been with him for years.
Mr Gillett is not alone in his trouble. The virus has struck what may well be a fatal blow to a vital service for thousands of parents.
He wants help. He says he pays $10,500 a month to the ACT government which is the landlord for one of his two centres and that sum is not sustainable with the collapse of his customers' spending.
"I think the ACT government should give me a rent holiday seeing it's a government owned premises and the rest of the building is empty.
"I've been running the business for 30 years," he said.
On Wednesday morning, Mr Barr said governments were looking at the issue of childcare and what the recommendations would be, saying it is a very complex issue.
He said demand was down because a lot of children were at home, but that there were some parents who had to send their kids. This also had to be balanced with keeping centres viable.
Centres were working to clean and for social distancing, although that was more complicated when dealing with small children.
Mr Barr said the government was trying to put in place arrangements on child care that would last through the year.
There was a complex interweaving between federal government subsidies, income support and placement systems. The government was aware of those issues, and the new system needed to be viable. It had to consider staff and the future of centres, as well as parents who might need occasional care
Across Canberra, providers of childcare are in crisis, according to Jenny Kitchin, chief executive of Woden Community Service which helps a thousand families.
"Every single early-learning or after-school service is going to need more financial support," she said.
The childcare centres have been told they can keep running even though schools have been told to cut their operations.
The federal government has promised aid to the sector but only if a centre closes because a child there actually contracts the virus. Help is not there for centres which close because parents are taking their children home to isolation.
For Mark Gillett, the closure of one of his centres would give extra grief. Some of his staff are from countries like Nepal. Their visa is tied to the job - so no job, no visa. They are not eligible for Centrelink benefits.
"Some have borrowed vast amounts," Mr Gillett said. "If they are sent back to their original countries, it would be a catastrophe for them. They have sent their children to school here."
Some are just about to become Australians, he said.
Mr Gillett's centres are in Curtin and Macarthur. Numbers have dropped more in Curtin because, he says, parents there were often public servants who could work from home and keep their children with them instead of paying the fee of $100 a day (offset by a government payment depending on the parents' income).
Macarthur had more trades people who had to be out during the day and so needed to be able to deposit their children.
The largest provider of childcare in the ACT is the not-for-profit organisation, Communities at Work which looks after 1,300 children from birth to preschool age.
Its numbers, too, are down. "We are seeing children being removed," manager Chris Barry said.
It is still looking after children but exercising "social distancing" by spreading them out, having some activities inside and some outside - though Mr Barry said this was hard to do with young children. (Impossible, you might think - like herding cats).
At the Manuka Childcare Centre, Director Rowena Muir also said there was a drop in numbers. She said they were trying to devise other sources of revenue like from offering childcare at people's homes to give them a break. Providing care of school-age children was a possibility.
The country's umbrella association for the sector, Early Childhood Australia, is based in Fyshwick (though they are all working from home now).
Its chief executive, Samantha Page, said help was badly needed to tide centres over a temporary crisis. The danger was that when the virus was finally beaten, skills would have been lost.
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you're looking to stay up to date on COVID-19, you can also sign up for our twice-daily digest here. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.