There’s concern the rapid climb in COVID cases across the Hunter will spell doom for small businesses who have only just started to recover.

It’s likely a large number of local businesses are banking on strong Christmas trade to bolster their return.

But there’s fear businesses who just barely managed to survive the previous lockdowns, won’t make it through if the numbers keep up.

Trade confidence has plummeted, as businesses see high numbers of cancellations, or are forced to close their doors due to isolating or infected staff. 

Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes says we could be facing a virtual lockdown.

“I’m pretty confident that we won’t go into another lockdown, based on what the Government has been saying over the last couple of days, but that doesn’t stop the community changing their habits in not engaging, not going out, not going to venues,” Mr Hawes said.

“In a sense, you have a slowdown in trade that’s not generated by a lockdown, but just generated by a response to the spike in the virus.”

The December 15 reopening milestone has proven not as exciting for Newcastle as initially hoped by the business community.

Some venues have decided to keep restrictions such as mask mandates and check-ins, and shut their doors to the unvaccinated.

Mr Hawes says despite restrictions easing, the Government can’t afford to take a back seat.

“The support stuff is still out there at the moment, not all of it’s been withdrawn, but we have started engaging with the Government to try and make sure that if businesses are forced to the brink again, through no fault of their own, that some of these assistance packages will be available,” Mr Hawes said.

“They haven’t been withdrawn yet, but we want to make sure that they’re going to be continuing.”