NSW Business regional manager Andrew Cottrill has called on the federal and state governments to ease coronavirus restrictions on a postcode-by-postcode basis, so regions with a low infection rate aren't penalised for city outbreaks.
Doing so would allow regional businesses to get back to work.
"Holding everyone back for the sake of some areas still with outbreaks is delaying recovery," he said.
About 8000 people in the Murray Riverina region have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the past two months, but experts have warned the worst is still to come.
Mr Cottrill said there had been a six per cent reduction in the number of people employed in the Riverina-Murray region and it was important businesses could begin recovering.
He said analysis of single-touch payroll data showed about 7000 to 8000 full-time and part-time jobs had been lost in recent months.
"It's going to take a while to recover from that. We're probably talking three to five years before we start to see the economy fully recovering."
Also, a total of 2.7 million workers had been affected by the pandemic.
Mr Cottrill said the figure did not show the amount of people whose hours had been cut severely because of the crisis.
"We believe there's a significant level of under-employment, which is a real hidden issue, where people may still get a few hours but not to the degree of work they want," he said.