Reports on social media of a "mass exodus" of Canberrans coming to the south coast before the ACT lockdown started on Thursday, August 12 alarmed residents, but Nelligen business owners say the issue is being exaggerated.
Nelligen is the first town visitors reach at the bottom of the Clyde mountain, and business owners say they did not think the roads had been busier than usual since the lockdown came into effect.
A cafe owner said on a typical Friday, traffic would be steady between 10am and 6pm, but not today.
"It's reminded us of what it was like in the bushfires, there's absolutely no cars coming through, especially with ACT number plates," they said.
"It's been overemphasised, people are following the rules and staying in Canberra."
Steampacket Hotel co-owner Heather Alvy said people needed to remember many South Coast residents worked in Canberra but would have needed to return home because of the lockdown.
"We stay up to date with the health advice and will turn away anyone with a Canberra license," she said.
"It's been very quiet the last few weeks anyway because the ACT had warned people not to travel here.
"A lot of our trade relies on the Big4 holiday park next door, and I imagine they have lost a lot of bookings overnight."
Big4 Nelligen receptionist Kate Broomham said traffic coming down the mountain last night wasn't dramatic.
"We thought we might see more bookings if people tried to come from Canberra that we'd have to say no to, but we actually got many cancellations so it looks like people were doing the right thing," she said.
A spokesperson from the South Coast police district said officers were bolstering their high-visibility operations in the state which meant more highway patrols.
"Part of the compliance operation includes patrolling highways and roads that connect communities, especially in regional and rural areas," the spokesperson said.
"You may have seen Highway Patrol while on your drive, or you may not have seen the other cars we have out and about.
"Obviously, we can't be everywhere, and that's why we ask the community to report anything they see that may be untoward."