Clubs, hotels and restaurants were among those worst hit at the start of COVID-19 restrictions and now they will be among the most affected when JobKeeper is wound back at the end of September.
Daniel Munk, chief executive of Aster Group, which operates several clubs in the Illawarra, said the sector was grateful for the subsidies the federal government had provided but it was hard to predict what would happen when the assistance ended because no-one knew what was coming next.
"JobKeeper has allowed us a safety net and the ability to meet the changing requirements," Mr Munk said.
"COVID has forced us to adapt our business to meet the challenges and we remain focused on continually reviewing our operations.
Mr Munk said everyone was doing the best they can.
"We have seen major impacts in our food and beverage departments and our events and functions space. There has been significantly less business for everyone in the hospitality space."
Mr Munk said operators were doing considerably less business than before COVID.
Social distancing rules around events and functions were making the traditional function market difficult. Most of the larger functions booked prior to COVID were still cancelled and the wedding market remained difficult.
"This world of the new-normal is not normal at all. JobKeeper was a fantastic safety net."
Mr Munk said clubs like Wests Illawarra would keep adapting but no-one actually knew what the economy would look like when JobKeeper stopped and JobSeeker payments reduced.
And no-one knew when the borders were likely to reopen or what Christmas and the summer holiday season would look like. Or if there will be a second or third wave of COVID before a vaccine is found.
Mr Munk hoped the federal and state government would keep a close eye on the situation and provide more assistance if required.
"The big risk is if things start to become too hard some businesses may make decisions they don't really want to," he said.
"We are a community-based organisation and part of our goal is to support the community. And a part of that is to employ people."
Mr Munk said everyone in the industry was trying to keep as many people employed as they could.
The Fraternity Club's Greg Field said he wouldn't know until the end of the week whether the club would be eligible for the continuation of JobKeeper.
"We are not 100 per cent sure whether we will qualify or not. It is going to be very close. It looks like we are going to be about 26 per cent down on last year. And if we are not 30 per cent down on business we will miss out."
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