With the number of workers furloughed due to rising COVID-19 cases, and financial support out of reach, Canberra's businesses have called for measures to see them through surging cases of the Omicron strain.
Business collectives representing the inner south, Braddon and Fyshwick said their members were calling out for more support, and they would back measures to help people affected by COVID-19 exposures get back to work quicker.
In NSW, critical workers, including supermarket staff, who are close contacts are eligible to leave isolation to work if they have no symptoms of COVID-19.
Braddon's United Retailers and Traders (BURT) spokesperson Kel Watt said trading had been strong in the lead-up to Christmas, but the reintroduction of mask mandates indoors on December 21 had given people "a sense of fear".
"It went from being a very, very strong trading period to almost nothing," Mr Watt said.
"And there are some hospitality outlets that are choosing to not reopen yet or working on just a lunch or dinner as opposed to all-day trade. Or having reduced hours in some other capacity."
Mr Watt said businesses did not want people coming into work sick, but it would make sense for people who had received three doses of a vaccine and returned a negative test to be able to get back to work.
Inner South Canberra Business Council chair John-Paul Romano said businesses in his precinct were experiencing hundreds of cancellations.
"Anything that can free up staff is appreciated," he said.
"Not only is the furloughing of staff hurting businesses, but the fact that it's hard to find staff in this time especially in these front-line sectors such as hospitality.
"There need needs to be some some further support for the hospitality and tourism industries."
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr last week said governments would not be able to provide businesses with financial support every time revenue dropped due to surging COVID-19 cases.
"The chief minister should realise that without small businesses, the ACT economy will grind to a halt," Mr Romano said.
"For every small business, there are dozens and dozens of people, which that business supports.
"Not only the owners: all the casual staff, university students, the suppliers, suppliers' families [and more].
"Anything that will help us get back to work and get to the capacity that we need to be faster is going to help," Fyshwick Business Association President Rob Evans said.
"I think about 30 per cent of everyone's staff at the moment are off ... so it's making it very, very difficult for anyone to work at any sort of full capacity."
Mr Evans said Fyshwick businesses were also eager for discussions with the ACT government about how to attract more workers to the area in the long-term, with the shortages being sorely felt due to preexisting issues.
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