"We are absolutely devastated."
Raw Sugar Taree's Shayne Tull has reacted to news the federal government has forced all restaurants and cafes to transition to takeaway only in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
This was enforced from noon today (Monday March 23), while pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas and places of worship will close indefinitely.
Shayne said more preparation time was needed for businesses.
"We've (Raw Sugar) got 13-14 staff here and it's possible they will lose their jobs (and we are) making decisions on the run," Shayne said.
"I've had staff in tears all morning.
"To get told at 9'clock last night you've got six hours left to trade it's just disgusting. I realise the government has got to react now, I think they're probably panicking.
"They needed to at least give us 48 hours to try and trade some stock out of our business."
He suggested mass gatherings of people at Sydney's Bondi Beach this past weekend forced the government to ramp up its reaction to the virus.
I think this will hurt the economy so much, it's just going to kill us.Shayne Tull, Raw Sugar
In the past week, the cafe has reduced the number of tables and chairs (both inside and on the footpath on Victoria Street) to comply with social distancing rules.
Each table was four metres a part.
"We thought this would be enough to keep us going if we all do the right thing," Shayne said.
The impacts of the crisis were evident in the Taree CBD before the closure were enforced.
Shayne pointed out the Taree Centrelink office (which is situated near Raw Sugar) had dozens of people lined up outside.
He mentioned some retail businesses could close in the coming days.
"I think this (coronavirus) will hurt the economy so much, it's just going to kill us," Shayne said.
"You're going to notice a big change in Taree that's for sure.
"That line at Centrelink is going to get a lot bigger."
Shayne's next step will be looking at financial security measures for himself, his family and staff.
That will also apply to many business owners.
"We're all the same, we all have young families, kids in school and debt," he said.
"It's hard times ahead."
Shayne revealed takeaway only equates to 15-20 per cent of total income.
Across the street, Cafe Thyme had already closed its doors. A statement was taped to the door.
"Due to the announcement last night that we must close by 12 noon today, we have decided for the safety of not only our employees but also our customers to not open this morning.
"We will remain closed but we will reopen when the government allows us to.
"Until then we want everyone to remain healthy and we look forward to seeing you all when we can resume work."