IT'S an uneasy quietness that Warrnambool business owners are now all too familiar with as they swallow disappointment after learning Victoria's fifth lockdown will extend beyond five days.
Brightbird Espresso owner Anton Habel said takeaway trade was busy enough on Sunday but then was "dead quiet" on Monday.
The Victorian government said on Monday the five-day snap lockdown was working but would need to be extended. A time frame will become available on Tuesday.
Mr Habel saw the lockdown and its extension as "over the top" when there was limited support for businesses and employees, and restrictions had earlier this month allowed crowds to gather where COVID-19 had spread.
"Those big sporting events where they have 30,000 packed in together; if there's one or two cases around it goes everywhere. It spoils it for everyone," he said.
A lack of applicants to fill job vacancies in the past year - as with many cafes and restaurants in the region - has forced the cafe to pay idle workers to avoid suffering staff shortages when the city opens up.
"We have staff to think about but we aren't on Centrelink and can't just ride it every time," Mr Habel said.
"If we don't keep them during the lockdown then we won't have them when we open up."
Mr Habel trialled a delivery service last year but found it unviable and this time has closed the kitchen and is offering limited takeaway and coffee options.
"It's my passion, this industry, I love it so much," he said. "But you start thinking ... it might be time to give it up and move somewhere where there's more stability."
Mr Habel took over the business months before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and said loyal customers had helped keep his doubts away for now.
"The fact they are happy when they come in. It puts a smile on my face and is what I come in for," he said.
Anushka Brows and Beauty owner Rhiarna Sharma was disappointed the lockdown would extend but said she expected it.
Mrs Sharma said some staff were taking paid leave but casuals were without pay and applying for what government support was available.
"It's very hard to put a finger on what is right and wrong. After this many lockdowns we need to somehow learn to live with it like the rest of the world is," she said.
"The whole small business world will be ruined if they don't stop locking us down. I feel if we can't get out of a lockdown that is 15 or 20 cases a day, how will we ever get out?"
Lockdowns in the past have meant restrictions have lingered at the salon for weeks as indoor mask wearing ruled out facials or any service below the mask.
"By the time it slowly gets back to normal we go into another lockdown," Mrs Sharma said.
Capitol Cinema manager Greg Gent said the extended shutdown of the cinema was disappointing but found some optimism that school holiday trade had verged on normal.
"It's just the nature of the virus, it is still out there in the community," he said. "I don't think it's fair on us here. But what are our options until everyone is vaccinated?"
Best Western Olde Maritime Motor Inn owner Raj Patel said he was juggling his roster to do as much for staff as possible in the absence of JobKeeper. But the usually full restaurant and motel only had one booking on the weekend due to restrictions.
"It's dead quiet," Mr Patel said. "I'm just over it ... it's really tough for my staff."
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