There is no doubt that this last three weeks have probably been the worst of our COVID experience.
I have spoken to many people in the tourism and hospitality industries and they are hurting and scared about what the future holds.
Last year we had the artificial layer of JobKeeper to insulate a lot of the pain but that is long gone and businesses face a challenging, in many cases scary, time to get through this lockdown period.
I don't pretend to have all of the answers but my quick read of the tea leaves is below.
Inclusion in lockdown
There has been a great deal of frustration with Wollongong and Shellharbour being included in the lockdown boundary of Greater Sydney.
We obviously have some challenges with the number of essential workers travelling to Sydney for work and also Sydneysiders coming to our region to deliver essential services.
The other challenge we have is that the South Coast has become the recreational playground for Greater Sydney.
In times like these, this becomes our Achilles heel.
This week we were told eight Sydney youngsters had been found in Batemans Bay.
The behaviour of these wombles is what keeps us in lockdown.
Short of building one of Donald's walls around our boundary and making Wollongong and Shellharbour "Great Again!"
I can only see the boundary being expanded, not relaxed because of behaviour like this.
It's not in our nature to be a nation of dobbers but if there was ever a time to, it's now.
It's not in our nature to be a nation of dobbers but if there was ever a time to, it's now. If you see people behaving in a way that is against the Health Orders, call Crime Stoppers and report it.
It's clear the other thing that is confusing people is being told to stay home yet so many retail stores are open for business.
If we really want to beat this thing, we need to take it seriously.
There isn't a lot of point in buying too many clothes anyway because we have nowhere to wear them and by the time we get out of lockdown they probably won't fit anyway.
Stay home, save the money, look forward to a new outfit and great party when this is all a distant memory.
Whether it says it in the fine print or not, essential shopping should be groceries, chemists, good caffeine and Uncle Dans, just like everywhere else in the country.
It seems incredibly obvious that the only ticket out of this situation is vaccination.
NSW Health has done an amazing job setting the system up and it works incredibly well. If they had a few more vaccines, it would be even better.
Some people have some concerns with regards to vaccination and potential health implications.
If you have concerns and want to understand what vaccination means for you, don't indulge doctor google or social media experts who have a degree in lego, speak to a medical expert.
It appears clear that our passport to travel and getting back to a normal life is through the vaccination process reaching its 80 per cent of the population target and the sooner we get there, the better for every single person in the country.
The most critical support package released during this lockdown is the COVID-19 disaster payment for individuals.
If you have lost more than eight hours' work during the lockdown you are eligible for a weekly cash payment from the government. It's simple and in the three cases I have assisted with, money has been in the nominated bank account the following day.
There is a range of business support packages available for businesses.
There are too many to list here but with the help of our great friends at KPMG Wollongong, these are listed on the visitwollongong.com website.
For the community, the obvious things we can do are wear a mask, check in anywhere you go and smile your biggest friendliest smiles.
Small business owners are stressed, workers are worried about their health but they are doing their best for us, don't make their lives any harder than they already are.
We are a resilient industry.
We are lucky to have an incredibly supportive community.
Together we will get through this. Stay safe, stay home, follow the rules.
- Mark Sleigh is general manager of Destination Wollongong