NSW businesses forced to close as hundreds of staff in isolation

Dozens of businesses in New South Wales are being forced to close due to staff shortages after hundreds are in isolation.

Christmas week would normally be peak season for hospitality businesses however with the surge of COVID-19 cases in the state, many are being forced to close.

One Newcastle business said that 70 per cent of their staff are in isolation after they were deemed close contacts.

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Dozens of businesses in NSW have closed after close contact isolation has caused staff shortages.

Luke Tilse owns multiple venues in Newcastle including The Young Street Hotel said he's received a surge in cancellations over Christmas and some of his other venues are closed due to staff shortages.

"Staff are dropping like flies, just trying to get our head around the changes casual contacts, close contacts, low risk, all of the publicans are calling each other comparing notes," Mr Tilse told 9News.

Mr Tilse called for changes to restrictions in NSW as the state moves towards "living with COVID-19".

"Honestly, this cannot be the way that we move forward," Mr Tilse said on Instagram.

"Even lockdown was better. At least then we got support, and knew our staff were being looked after."

Dozens of businesses in NSW have closed after close contact isolation has caused staff shortages.

Venues in Sydney have also been forced to close after staff were exposed to COVID-19.

Bondi Icebergs in Sydney's eastern suburbs has closed until further notice after staff were exposed to the virus.

Other hospitality venues in the city including The Lord Gladstone in Chippendale and the Shell House in Sydney's CBD have also shut up shop due to the surging case numbers.

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South Bondi, Bondi Icebergs Club

"Due to high rising case numbers in the local area and other venues close to us being affected by positive COVID-19 cases, we have made the difficult decision to shut up shop as of today through till NYE," The Lord Gladstone said on Instagram

"The latest outbreak has been a blow to us and sadly means that we do not have the team members needed to provide the level of service we expect to deliver to all of our guests," the Shell House also said on Instagram.

Productions shut down due to COVID-19 cases

Some productions have been shut down after COVID-19 cases were detected in the staff.

Hamilton has suspended two showings and Come from Away has also suspended two performances as both companies undergo COVID-19 testing.

Hamilton has been forced to cancel shows after COVID-19 was detected in the production company.

Holiday tourism destinations see rise in cancellations

Many holiday tourism destinations on the NSW Mid North Coast were booked out prior to the current surge in COVID-19 cases.

Many operators in the Hunter region are now seeing a drop in bookings as people are either in isolation or are concerned about the risk of the virus.

Prior to the current outbreak, the demand for holidays homes was surging with many places booked out over the Christmas period.

"Our businesses doubled which has been a product of high prices and a lot of people wanting to take advantage of the short term economy," Peter Smith, CEO of Weekenda, said.

READ MORE: Omicron cases could hit 200,000 a day across Australia

Cancellations at holiday tourism destinations in the NSW Hunter region are occurring due to the outbreak.

Mr Smith said some people are beginning to cancel bookings due to COVID-19 concerns.

"There's definitely some pressure people are looking at Newcastle numbers and getting a bit spooked about Newcastle and the Hunter," he said.

"As those infection rates go up I think we will get more and more pressure from people who want to cancel or just don't want to travel."

Current close contact rules

Current rules mean a vaccinated close contact must isolate for seven days from the last time they were with a COVID-positive person.

A close contact is deemed as someone living in the same household as a positive case, having a "household-like" relationship with the positive person, or if they've been to a setting or event deemed a "superspreader".

To be cleared, the person will need a negative PCR test on day one and again on day six.

READ MORE: How to have a COVID-safe Christmas

For casual contacts – someone who has come into contact with a COVID-positive person for a short period of time – still need to stay at home until they receive a negative PCR test.

With current wait times for test results that could be around 72 hours.

NSW recorded 3763 COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Case numbers are doubling roughly every four and a half days in the state.

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