Pubs and restaurants have emptied out in the days before Christmas after warnings to limit social mixing were issued by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty
Image: The Harlequin Islington)
Pubs and restaurants across Britain have fallen silent as people stay at home amid dire warnings about the Omicron Covid variant.
Millions of Brits have cancelled festive plans to ensure they do not catch Covid and are forced to isolate over Christmas.
The wave of voluntary self-isolation came after Boris Johnson gave a televised briefing, speaking to the nation about the ongoing pandemic.
After weeks of refusing to admit Christmas plans could be under threat, Johnson told the country to “think carefully” before heading out this festive season.
Pubs and other public venues have suffered a wave of cancellations as a result, with punters choosing to avoid them.
The Harlequin Islington)
In London, almost every single one of the 90 restaurants in London’s West End was hit by cancellations.
One pub manager in Covent Garden said they had lost every single booking for a Christmas party.
On top of this, a string of West End shows have been cancelled, including Hamilton and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
This has led to criticisms that the government is bringing in a “lockdown by stealth”.
It has been matched by calls from the hospitality industry for economic support to avoid going bust.
They have warned that the advice to curb social mixing without accompanying support could push many businesses over the edge.
Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, president of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The need for the chief medical officer to advise the public to ‘de-prioritise social contacts’ at tonight’s press conference will almost certainly have an enormous impact for businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector.”
The Confederation of British Industry also said that calls to limit socialising would have a “chilling effect” on the industry.
Theatre director Sir Nicholas Hytner said that venues were in “crisis mode” with shows closing and staff and actors catching the virus meaning that bookings had “fallen off a cliff”.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty urged people to prioritise their socialising ahead of Christmas, and try not to do so with strangers or in large groups.
Professor Whitty said that a rise in Omicron hospitalisations is “nailed on” after cases hit a record high yesterday.
He said: “I think that what most people are doing is – and I would think this seems very sensible – is prioritising the social interactions that really matter to them and, to protect those ones, de-prioritising ones that matter much less to them.”
Health Minister Gillian Keegan said: “Everybody is urging caution. Most of us will know somebody now who’s positive with Covid, and that means if you’ve tested positive, then you’ll be in isolation over Christmas.
“So that’s bound to make people a bit more cautious. Make a sensible choice for yourself, make a sensible choice.
“You know, if you’re going to go to a party, take a test. If there’s lots of people there you don’t know, if that’s your priority, fine.
“If your priority is to make it through to Christmas Day with your family then take a different approach.”
Britain’s booster campaign gave out a record 611,000 jabs yesterday, the most in a single day.