(Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

In my local cafe, the smile of the owner is gradually disappearing week by week as he dispenses coffee from behind a piquant little mask. That must have seemed cute a few weeks ago. Now, there is a worry in his eyes that was not there before.

When the first lockdown occurred, he negotiated a deal with the district landlords of his shop for a rent holiday that went for three months. Rent was reintroduced and then suspended again. He has reduced his staff to a single other person in order to give his retinue of staff at least some regular work.

But it's all starting to come apart.