After the spike in COVID cases over the New Year, business owners around the Macleay have been struggling to cover their rosters.
The increase in cases and close contact exposures have left many owners unable to staff their businesses, as employees drop out with little notice.
There were 338 new cases of COVID reported in the Mid North Coast Local Health District, on 9 January, with 75 cases in Kempsey.
And with the reintroduction of restrictions in NSW, many are wondering if government benefits will be put back into place as well.
Jasmine Abigall, owner of Harley and Rose Clothing in Kempsey, said multiple staff members have had to isolate.
"It's such an uncertain space because it's also school holidays and I have two young ones, so days that I had the shop organised to be staffed so I could spend time with my children is just going belly up," she said.
"Technically if you are a close contact you have to isolate for seven days, but if you are isolating every single time you become a close contact, how much time are you going to have off? How is that going to affect everyone else? And how is that going to affect sick leave?
"Then when you do get COVID, and you have no sick leave, where is the entitlement when it comes to support from the government? We previously had that support but it isn't available anymore."
Chop and Chill South West Rocks owner, Daniel Yip, said it has been a challenging time.
"We have been running it ourselves most of the time, to cover the staff who are not able to work," Mr Yip said.
"At the moment we have to take it day by day, as we don't know what is going to happen in the next couple of weeks, so hopefully everything gets under control."
The same is the case for Lou Kesby, owner of Lou's Cafe in Kempsey.
"We struggled, but we got through because it was a very busy season," Mr Kesby said.
"The hospitality industry is in a little bit of a mess with staffing across the state, and COVID isn't helping it."
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