Bega Valley businesses are struggling with COVID related staffing shortages, but the Bega Chamber of Commerce says businesses continue to benefit from an extended tourist season.
President of the Bega Chamber of Commerce John Watkin said staff shortages across all sectors continue to be an issue of great concern.
"There's a lot of businesses that have been severely impacted by either staff that have got COVID or just that they're close contacts and need to isolate until they get a negative result.
"Most businesses are able to open but some are having to limit the amount of trade they do and some are working on skeleton staff," he said.
On talking with business owners around the shire, Mr Watkin said it was clear that many employers were struggling and some were left to run their businesses almost entirely on their own.
There were also reports that supermarkets in town were down to half the staff available on their normal roster.
Unfortunately businesses have also reported a drop in customers with the surge in COVID cases, with most people in working towns like Bega only coming in for their essential items.
"Customers have been scared off, I think people have gone to ground, we're not in an official lockdown but people are not going out.
"I guess that makes things a little bit quieter when you're managing staff but at the same time we all have to make a living, so the fact that people have stopped coming out does just make it that much more difficult," said Mr Watkin.
On a more positive note reported by Bega businesses this week was a great Christmas and New Year period for sales due to increased tourism.
"Most of us that have been around here for a long time know that when you don't get not so perfect weather that the visitation rate in Bega does go up," said Mr Watkin.
"I think that whenever the weather is a bit miserable and it's not a nice sunny day, tourists tend to come to Bega because instead of going to the beach they jump in their cars and go for a drive to see what else is around."
Along the coastal towns, businesses in Bermagui, Merimbula, Eden and Tathra have been seeing large numbers of tourists.
"I think the tourism locations have gone fantastic, it's really been pumping along.
"Bermagui and Merimbula have both been really busy, so there's still plenty of tourists around, it's been a bumper tourist season," said Mr Watkin.
The large crowds in addition to widespread staff shortages have affected supermarkets in Merimbula though, with reports coming in that fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are still in short supply.
"By and large I don't think we're suffering as much as some of the metro areas, although I was told this morning too that the supermarkets in Merimbula are struggling."
Overall the feeling among businesses was that many are very thankful for a great holiday period and the return of tourists after a few bleak seasons.
"It's good people have really supported the region and come back to stay after having a couple of years of having to evacuate or not being able to come at all," said Mr Watkin.