There were queues yesterday morning outside Katherine's Centrelink office.
The same situation has been reflected at Centrelink offices around Australia as people try and come to terms with the heavy job losses from national coronavirus pandemic action.
Katherine, which is coming to terms with a dry season without any tourists, is expected to be particularly hard hit.
Pubs, clubs and gyms also closed on Monday because of new Federal Government mandates.
Border crossing controls began at 4pm yesterday.
Another vexing issue for locals is that the MyGov website, to make online applications for assistance, has repeatedly crashed.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said people are no longer required to attend a Centrelink site to provide proof of identity.
Changes have been made which require people to only provide proof of identity over the phone.
"Understanding these are exceptional circumstances and we don't want people attending Centrelink sites in person, they will then give you a validation that says: 'Yes you are who you say you are', on the basis of what you've said, and then you go online and register through MyGov."
Senator Ruston said the website could now handle 150,000 people at a time, with 123,000 people online on Tuesday morning.
The MyGov online portal crashed on Monday after it was overwhelmed by almost 100,000 newly-unemployed Australians, many of whom were making their first approach to Centrelink.
Senator Ruston says no one could have predicted the spike in the level of demand, even though the government shut down a number of industries to combat the spread of the virus.
Labor social services spokeswoman Linda Burney has urged the government to set up a dedicated Centrelink hotline to help people navigate the welfare system.
"They are scared, they are confused and they are stressed because of drastic changes to their financial situation," she told ABC radio.
"Get the payments out, cut the red tape and worry about the paperwork later. People need help now."
Centrelink will boost its workforce by 5000 people to deal with the influx of applicants and extend call centre hours.
But there will be fewer workers at the centres because of social distancing requirements. No pop-up shopfronts are planned.
Many families, workers and business owners have been forced to seek social security as the pandemic throws the national economy into chaos.
Government Services Minister Stuart Robert is encouraging people to avoid lining up outside Centrelink offices and apply online instead.
Mr Robert has admitted he was wrong to blame hackers for bringing the MyGov website down, when it was actually overwhelmed by sacked Australians scrambling for benefits.
"I probably should have waited for the investigation before jumping the gun," he told 2GB radio on Tuesday.
"We prepared over the weekend for 55,000 ... I didn't think I'd have to prepare for 100,000 concurrent users."
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