HALIFAX -- Small businesses across the Maritimes are anxiously awaiting the details of the federal government's emergency assistance package.

Many say they quickly went from thriving to surviving with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've gone from about 100 customers a day, to maybe 20 to 30 at the most and so pretty significant so far, and it seems like we're just kind of getting into it right now," said business owner Mike Duncan.

With many residents being told to stay home other than for essential purposes, small businesses are feeling the impact, and quickly.

"I've never seen this before. I've never seen that the whole city has closed down," said Peter Smit, a business owner. "Then again, because I'm not from here, and I check out everywhere, including my hometown, Amsterdam, and I see that everywhere, it's the same thing."

The federal government has announced an $82-billion aid package to help workers and businesses survive downtown. More details on the package are supposed to be unveiled soon.

"I hope certainly that employees who are working for businesses like restaurants and bars, but all kind of other businesses too, that they can get at least some money so they can eat and live," said Smit.

"If we could get debtors to agree to extend loan payments and defer payments, you know, everybody would still get their money but just deal with this situation at hand, and help us get through it," said Duncan.

The Saint John Region Chamber is urging government to act quickly, adding this is when businesses need these funds the most.