Despite not being in lockdown Kiama is like a ghost town this week with Sydney, Wollongong and Shellharbour residents staying away.
Some were turned away on Saturday as news broke that Greater Sydney was going into a snap lockdown. And by Monday the town centre was dead.
Near the iconic blow hole Diggies Kiama was doing less business than Diggies at North Beach, despite Wollongong being in lockdown with eateries only able to do takeaways.
Businesses along the terrace shop strip remain open but are doing next to no trade.
Hungry Monkey's Taylor Hudson said now was a great time for locals to come out and support Kiama businesses.
"During the weekend we were down 50 per cent," Mr Hudson said.
"I think this lockdown has put people in a state of fear once again. But it is different this time because last year everywhere was in lockdown at the same time. We are just focusing on what is in front of us and trying to keep people in jobs."
Mr Hudson said business was also significantly down in Berry and the plans to open a Hungry Monkey at Thirroul have been pushed back two weeks.
"We are still open and still here doing everything we can while following COVID safe practices. Trading hours are the same and we are doing takeaway as well. We will continue to try and keep spirits high among our staff. They are who we want to look after at the moment. And our local community."
Next door Vogue Decor owner Nicki Gibb described this week's trade as "terrible".
Often it is impossible to get a park in front of the terrace shops but on Wednesday every car space was empty.
"That is unheard of," Ms Gibb said.
When the lockdown was announced she thought there would have still been some people around who were already in the area. But that has not been the case.
"Kiama might as well be in lockdown. It is like a ghost town."
Ms Gibb said these two weeks were always important for small businesses like hers. It is the last holiday season for winter and there is only one other before Christmas.
"This is what gets us through winter when trade is traditionally slow."
Ms Gibb has run her business for five years and said March 2020 was the worst time she previously experienced.
"We stayed open the whole time but there were days when we did not take one cent. This is very similar. I have only had three people in today. That is what it has been like since Sunday."
Ms Gibb's message to locals is that Kiama is not in lockdown and all businesses are practicing social distancing, have QR codes to scan and a requirement to wear masks inside. She said everyone is well stocked after anticipating a busy school holiday season.
"This is your town and these are your shops. We really need you to support us. What this latest lockdown has highlighted is how much trade we get from Wollongong, Shellharbour and Sydney people. It just goes to show you really need the locals to support you as well."
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