COLES is adding 130 staff members in central Victoria to meet customer demand even as other businesses shut in the face of coronavirus.
Forty-five of the new employees have been fast-tracked into supermarkets and liquor stores in Bendigo and the wider region.
Some are from industries like travel, sport, fitness and hospitality, which have been decimated by restrictions.
Some businesses will thrive during the crisis itself because of their essential service status, even if the number of people they can put on pale in comparison to the jobs lost in the wider economy, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank managing director Marnie Baker said.
Her bank has been approached by businesses needing the capital for extra staff.
"We know that essential service businesses are putting a lot of people on to help with logistics to keep up with online demand, and to get groceries into stores," Ms Baker said.
It is a bright spot amid surging numbers of people off of work and warnings that coronavirus could radically alter Bendigo consumers' habits if the crisis wears on.
"If this does go for six months you have to assume things won't go back to what they were a few weeks ago," Ms Baker said.
"Things will have changed because we all will have adapted."
Several of the city's largest industries have already been hit hard by social distancing restrictions including retail, accommodation and food services.
Those sectors alone cover one fifth of Bendigo's 48,000 jobs, statistics compiled by economic consultancy REMPLAN suggest.
Up to $90 million could have been wiped from the city's $14.5 billion economy when tourism collapsed, REMPLAN director Matthew Nichol said last week.
But that was only a very early estimate of a crisis that has enveloped other sectors and at a time when data is only beginning to trickle in across Australia, he cautioned.
Economists are now watching the thousands of Bendigo office workers now working from home, Mr Nichol said.
"We will be teasing out if, in the middle of this crisis, businesses have learnt things that they might keep doing - or at least elements of them," he said.
"There's no silver lining to the crisis. But you take councils and businesses: we are all working from home now.
"There might be elements that are not working so well but I'll tell you what, it's incredible to see how people are innovating to make it work."
Mr Nichol group will track that as part of a wider national business survey as it scrambles to help clients track economic damage.
With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Bendigo rising to seven on Monday and to 821 across Victoria, Ms Baker said it was way too early to tell when the economic crisis would end and recovery could begin.
In the meantime, businesses and workers would have to keep turning to emergency measures like the government's newly announced $130 billion worth of JobSeeker payments to affected workers.
Ms Baker said her bank was among those supporting a separate federal relief package allowing eligible customers with facilities up to $10 million to defer repayments on business loans for six months, with interest capitalised into these existing loans.
"The banking industry has been working with the government all the way through to make sure we are supporting our business and mortgage measures," Ms Baker said.
"Outside of that, we are asking all our business and mortgage customers to please get in touch with us and talk about the impact of COVID-19 on them, and see if we can be of assistance. It's what we are here to do."
Ms Baker urged Bendigo residents to keep supporting local businesses.
"I think it is more important than ever that people stick together and support each other," she said.
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