Businesses in one of Sydney’s most popular spots for dining and drinking have seen a considerable downturn in patrons as coronavirus panic grips the city.
Just days after bars, restaurants and communal areas in Barangaroo were bustling with people, they resembled a ghost town during the lunch rush hour.
Pictures of identical areas in the popular precinct taken last Thursday and on Tuesday show just how much has changed, as people take severe measures to distance themselves and avoid the deadly virus.
One employee at busy lunchtime spot The Canteen said they were shocked by just how quickly foot traffic through the area had dropped off.
A long queue out the door of Belle’s chicken restaurant in Barangaroo was gone this week, as coronavirus panic spreads
Some businesses were less affected than others on Tuesday, with the majority of tables at this eatery taken
Seats outside popular food court The Canteen were full last week, while on Tuesday many sat empty. ‘You wonder what’s to come over the next few weeks?’ one employee told Daily Mail Australia
‘It’s crazy, last week we had a busy lunch period like normal and today was as close as it gets to dead quiet,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I guess it kind of makes sense. With so many people working in the area, if there is anywhere you are going to catch it, it is going to be here, so I assume people have just fled and are working from home.
‘You wonder what is going to come over the next few weeks?
‘My concern is that when there isn’t as much business you don’t need as many employees, so you worry about the safety of your job, definitely.’
Where last week customers struggled to find a table to have lunch, there was no shortage of eating spots available on Tuesday.
Even the walkways around Darling Harbour – popular with tourists – were empty.
The changes come as the Chief Medical Officer urged people to be far more diligent with social distancing, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Australia rises above 450.
While many office workers enjoyed a lunchtime meal and drink last Thursday, just a few days on and the scene had dramatically changed
The communal grassed area outside Barangaroo House was a lot quieter amid the increasing concern about the spread of disease
The social distancing efforts were clearly evident along the walk way around Darling Harbour
Where last week customers fought to find a seat in the lanes around Barangaroo, there was no shortage of spare tables on Tuesday
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 450
New South Wales: 210
South Australia: 30
Western Australia: 28
Northern Territory: 1
Australian Capital Territory: 2
TOTAL CASES: 450
‘That’s keeping a distance of one-and-a-half metres if possible from people, not being in close contact, so not shaking hands,’ Dr Brendan Murphy explained over the weekend.
‘I would be very focused on hand washing, using hand sanitisers, all of those social distancing, good hygiene measures.
‘We want everybody in the community to start practising those and to start thinking about how we will do social distancing in future.’
While the economic impact has already been severe on the stock market, it is small businesses and traders who are expected to be hit next.
There are fears millions of Australians could lose their jobs as the pandemic increases at a rapid rate.
There have been 450 cases and five deaths in Australia, close to the widely predicted one per cent fatality rate
The number of coronavirus cases rose gradually from late-January until mid-March, before a sudden increase over the past week
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the ‘unprecedented’ coronavirus crisis came at an ‘incredibly difficult time’ that could see almost eight per cent of workers out of a job.
‘One in thirteen Australian jobs rely on the tourism and hospitality sector and those employers, those businesses and those jobs are all on the line right now,’ he said.
‘Ultimately, we’re not going to be able to save every single business or every single job either.
‘This is a terrible, terrible event that we’re dealing with. It’s something that has never been encountered before.’