On Friday night, Revellers didn’t show any signs of festive Omicron fear as they danced and let loose as SAGE scientists threatened to destroy Christmas for another year. They demanded a lockdown on the circuit breaker and an indoor mixing ban.

Photos taken in Leeds (London), Birmingham, Birmingham, and Newcastle show busy nightlife venues packed with revelers on Black Eye Friday — one of most popular nights of year. 

On Friday night, punters crowded into clubs in London, Leeds and Newcastle. Meanwhile, large crowds filled German-style Christmas markets in Birmingham and cheered the sight of Father Christmas. 

Many young Cardiffans went out to Cardiff to enjoy their final night before Christmas. This was after the Welsh government had announced that all nightclubs in the country would close on December 27th and that social distancing rules would be reinstated.

Despite Friday’s impressive showing, Tory ministers will hold crunch talks this weekend in order to determine whether Covid curbs need to be implemented. This is following dire warnings by scientists from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. 

The minutes of the SAGE meeting were leaked. They warned that there will soon be restrictions to keep hospitalizations under control.

The UK’s Omicron variant threat will be discussed at an emergency Cobra meeting. The meeting will raise fears that more curbs could be imposed before Christmas – despite the opposition of Tory MPs and Downing Street’s apparent determination to get through without them.

It comes as Britain recorded its highest number of daily infections since the pandemic began, with a total of 93,045 people testing positive for Covid in the past 24 hours, up 60 per cent in a week. 

Experts in the industry feared that Government messages about Omicron mutation were alarming customers and affecting their confidence. This was during peak times for restaurants, bars, and pubs.

Festive takings will fall up to 40% in December. This is a devastating blow to venues that have survived previous lockdowns but are not expecting financial assistance.

It was the dreary news that another Christmas of chaos could be coming as: 

  • According to the NHS, it administered a record 861.306 doses of booster vaccines Thursday.
  • Downing Street announced that a Cobra meeting would be held, prompting speculation about additional restrictions prior to Christmas.
  • Welsh authorities announced that they would close nightclubs starting December 27, and restore two-metre social separation in office buildings.
  • Ireland has imposed an 8pm curfew on hospitality venues.
  • Neil Ferguson is the Imperial College London Covid expert on modelling. Omicron may have caused up to 5K deaths per day in this winter, according to Neil Ferguson.
  • However, the most recent official statistics show that only 65 people are admitted to hospital.
  • New statistics show that Omicron South Africa has seen a decline in deaths and hospitalisations despite records.
  • California’s Chancellor Rishi sunak flew home to California in an emergency meeting with the hospitality chiefs regarding financial aid.
  • This weekend, 3000 sites will serve as jab centers.
  • Yesterday’s vaccine shortage forced pharmacists to cancel booster appointments;
  • Residents must be allowed to visit their relatives during Christmas in care homes, it was warned.
  • Omicron case estimates that Omicron incidences were increasing by a third every day have been lowered due to people being more careful
BIRMINGHAM: Father Christmas is seen standing in the centre of packed out and mask-less crowds in Birmingham on Black Eyed Friday

BIRMINGHAM: Father Christmas stands in the middle of the packed-out and unmaskless crowds at Birmingham’s Black Eyed Friday

NEWCASTLE: Hundreds of young people hit Newcastle town centre on Black Eyed Friday

NEWCASTLE: On Black Eyed Friday, hundreds of youngsters throng Newcastle’s town centre.

LEEDS: A group of young revellers hit the town on Black Eye Friday, one of the busiest nights of the year for pubs, bars and nightclubs

LEEDS: This is a group of young revellers who hit the streets on Black Eye Friday. It’s one of the most busy nights for bars, nightclubs and pubs of the year.

CARDIFF: Punters packed into bars and clubs in the Welsh capital despite a steep rise in Omicron cases

CARDIFF: Punters packed into bars and clubs in the Welsh capital despite a steep rise in Omicron cases

LEEDS: Punters queue for the last big Friday night out before December 25 in Leeds

LEEDS: Leeds’ last Friday Night Out Before Christmas is a Punters Queue 

LONDON: Hundreds of people gather round a street performer as they make the most of one of the last weekends of 2021

LONDON: As they enjoy one of the final weekends in 2021, hundreds gather around a street entertainer. 

CARDIFF: Late on Thursday, the Welsh government said it would close nightclubs from December 27 and impose a two-metre social distancing rule. Pictured: Punters enjoy the festivities in Cardiff

CARDIFF: The Welsh government announced late on Thursday that it will close all nightclubs in December and establish a social distancing limit of two metres. Photo: Cardiff’s Punters enjoying the celebrations

NEWCASTLE: A group of girls celebrating their friend's 21st birthday hit the clubs on the final Friday before Christmas

NEWCASTLE – A group of 21-year old friends celebrated their birthday at the bars on Friday just before Christmas.

CARDIFF: A young woman watches on as a group of revellers enjoy their chips outside a JD Wetherspoon in Cardiff

CARDIFF – A young lady watches as some revellers eat their chips at a JD Wetherspoon outside Cardiff

CARDIFF: Young people ditch their face coverings as they head out on 'Mad Friday' with new Covid curbs coming into force from next week

CARDIFF: The young people of Cardiff get rid of their masks and head out for ‘Mad Friday,’ which is a celebration marking the new Covid curbs that will be in force starting next week

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been pictured arriving back in the UK at Heathrow Airport for crunch talks with furious hospitality bosses struggling with plummeting demand due to the Omicron mutant strain

Rishi Sunak is seen arriving in London at Heathrow Airport, where he will be meeting furious hotel bosses who have been struggling to cope with the plummeting demands due the Omicron mutant strain.

Leaked minutes of a SAGE minutes warned that restrictions will be needed 'very soon' to prevent hospitalisations from soaring to 3,000 a day, as plans for a two-week circuit breaker lockdown with a ban on indoor mixing were said to have been drawn up

According to leaked SAGE minutes, restrictions were needed “very soon” to prevent hospitalisations reaching 3,000 per hour. There are also plans for a 2-week lockdown of circuit breakers and an indoor mixing ban.

Cobra’s meeting with ministers from all of the devolved governments is taking place this weekend. It will be the second one in just a few days. 

Boris Johnson met with leaders from the three devolved administrations this week, which included Nicola Sturgeon (first minister of Scotland), to discuss the crisis.

The experts supported a ban of indoor social contact as well as hospitality during the Thursday meeting. They want new measures before January 1, which could prove to be devastating for Britons who are planning New Year celebrations.

‘The timing of such measures is crucial,’ said the minutes, seen by the BBC.

‘Delaying until 2022 would greatly reduce the effectiveness of such interventions and make it less likely that these would prevent considerable pressure on health and care settings.’ 

Can you really cut down the 10 day quarantine safely? 

What is the maximum time people can be infected?

Some academics argue that Britain’s Covid could have its self-isolation sentence reduced to five days.

According to data, 98% of viral transmission happens before the person becomes ill or within 5 days. 

An infectious disease specialist from the University of St Andrews Dr Muge Cevik stated earlier in the year that the isolate period for cases could be shorter because most transmission occurs very early.

“Viral load rises rapidly, and people can become very infectious in the first days. 

What is the maximum time that Covid positive patients can test positive?

Using lateral flow tests that take less than 15 minutes to provide results, it is ideal for identifying people most susceptible. 

The antigens are viral proteins found in nasal and throat samples.

The kits work better than gold-standardPCRs because swabs are sent to laboratory to check for viruses. 

They are more likely to not spot an infected person, and less likely they will give positive results when the viral load is lower.

The PCRs on the other side are very sensitive and can detect the presence of virus fragments even long after illness has passed.

A positive PCR test does not necessarily mean that someone is contagious. 

However, business leaders and health professionals reacted to the plan last night. They warned that the mandatory ten day self-isolation rule was “lockdown by stealth” – which means people are kept at home even if their infectious symptoms have subsided. 

According to The Times, Whitehall officials are currently preparing regulations which would prohibit indoor meeting except for work. Pubs and restaurants would only be allowed outside service. 

Sage minutes report that advisers recommended returning to restrictions in Step One and Two in the roadmap to release lockdown in spring. These included an indoor ban on social contact, indoor hospitality, etc.

They warned that solely sticking to Plan B could lead to ‘at least’ 3,000 hospital admissions a day in England. In the last week, admissions were between 800-900 per day. Introducing these measures early enough ‘could substantially reduce the peak in hospital admission and infections compared with Plan B alone’, the minutes said.

The surging statistics came as Professor Neil Ferguson — whose projections have spooked No10 into lockdowns before — called for curbs to be tightened by New Year on the back of his latest modelling of the mutant strain. 

Boris Johnson was presented with several options yesterday for a so-called Plan C, ranging from ‘mild guidance to nudge people, right through to lockdown’, according to the Financial Times. 

Rishi Sunak could be subject to further restrictions if he is not willing to help the industry, which was already affected by the announcements regarding the new strain.

California’s Chancellor was seen arriving in Britain for crunch talks.

Although Mr Sunak was in America on a ‘long-planned trip’ to meet with tech leaders, his timing has been criticized. One top British executive told the FT that he had too many ‘organic kale savories’.

Although the Chancellor had a meeting with leaders in hospitality via Zoom, one roundtable event was canceled due to clashing with an appointment with US health bosses.

Following the spreading of the variant and Covid’s advice to be more cautious before Christmas, booking cancellations have been on the rise. Bosses now demand that the government provide fresh financial support. Industry leaders expect the final total to hit £4billion of lost takings.

However, Mr Sunak insists ministers are already supporting the economy, saying to the BBC that while businesses only pay a quarter to their business rates bill until spring next year, they benefit from a lower rate of VAT through next spring and that about 25% of the cash is available to local authorities for support these businesses.

Yesterday’s calls were held by Simon Clarke (Chief Secretary to the Treasury), and Mr Sunak with Prezzo, Black Sheep Brewery. Other firms included Nando’s and Greene King. Whitbread, Adnams and Whitbread. 

Ministers are not encouraging people to cancel Christmas events. He said that the situation was very different from what he had experienced in the past. We don’t tell people to cancel anything, nor are we closing businesses.

Numerous people are angry at government scientists’ advice to decrease socialising. This has resulted in a crash of trade.

Britain's daily Covid cases have rocketed to record levels for the third day in a row with 93,000 people diagnosed in 24 hours

Britain’s Covid cases rose to new heights for the third consecutive day, with 93,000 patients diagnosed within 24 hours.

Covid hospital admissions have spiked by more than a third in a week in Britain's Omicron hotspot of London, official data shows. Some 199 infected patients were admitted to wards in London on Tuesday, the most recent day UKHSA figures are available for

Official data shows that covid hospital admissions in Britain’s Omicron hotspot London have increased by over a third within a week. 

Darts-lovers still packed into Alexandra Palace in London for day three of the William Hill World Darts Championship on Friday despite recording a record-breaking number of Covid infections

Even though there was a record number of Covid infected, darts lovers still packed Alexandra Palace in London on Friday for the third day of William Hill World Darts Championship. 

Hundreds of people wearing fancy dress costumes drank as they enjoyed the sporting spectacle in the capital

As they watched the spectacle unfold in capital, hundreds of spectators dressed up as fancy-dressed characters drank while enjoying the sport.

Ministers will decide this weekend whether any new Covid restrictions are needed following the latest dire warnings from scientists. An emergency Cobra meeting will discuss if a joint response to the threat of the Omicron variant is needed across the UK. (The PM is pictured in west London on Friday)

Following the recent dire warnings by scientists, ministers will make a decision this weekend about whether new restrictions for Covid. A Cobra emergency meeting will be held to discuss whether a coordinated response is required across the UK in light of Omicron’s threat. (The Prime Minister is seen in London’s west on Friday).

A shopping street in Gloucester. A shopping street in Gloucester.

There were slightly more shoppers out and about in Manchester on Friday - with many of them wearing face masks

Manchester had slightly more shoppers on Friday with many people wearing face masks. 

A busy outdoor market in Bristol. Business leaders have warned about the damaging impact of a fall in high street footfall

A busy outdoor market in Bristol. A fall in footfall on the high streets could have devastating consequences for business leaders 

CBI, along with other organizations, asked for CBI emergency grants, 100% business rate relief for retail and VAT reduction to 5% for tourism and hospitality.

Concerns were raised by business groups about possible cancellations of certain sectors. They also stressed the importance of clear communication from the government.

The news came at a time when figures indicated that London’s West End had seen a 32% drop in footfall Thursday, compared to the same day last year before the pandemic. These numbers fell 7 percentage points compared to a week prior.

Traffic conditions in the same time period were today 33% at Birmingham, 36% Manchester, 40% Liverpool, 34% Sheffield, 46% Leeds, and 28% Newcastle.

After being hit with a “double whammy” of employee absences, and plummeting customer confidence, pubs and restaurants are now closing earlier for Christmas.

Some restaurants stated that they were forced to close because many staff had contracted coronavirus. They are now unable to work due to the fear of the spread of the virus to other parts of the country.

Jace Tyrrell is the chief executive officer of New West End Company. He stated: “With increasing Covid cases dampening consumers confidence and a planned Tube Strike looming Saturday, we anticipate a muted last weekend of Christmas trading at an time when West End business should be enjoying a much needed boost.

“The government must quickly provide temporary financial assistance to UK leisure businesses. Otherwise, we risk more viable businesses closing down in the future.”

Kitty Ussher (CEO of the Institute of Directors) stated that it was sensible to cancel pandemic-related business assistance schemes as soon as business conditions looked to be returning to normal.

“But, after the Omicron variant, and subsequent drops in consumer demand, it is now clear that this is no longer true. This couldn’t have come at a better time for restaurants, venues and travel agencies.

“We call on the government to stop the unravelling of any remaining support programs, including the VAT reductions for hotels and support for business rates.

The numbers could rise to as high as 460,000 Covid daily cases in Britain by Christmas Eve. This would mean that two million people are forced to live isolated if the infections increase at the rate scientists predict. These large numbers can cause major disruptions to services when people are off work. 

Labour called for a government support package, but ministers have yet to provide any additional cash.

Omicron’s surge in Omicron cases means that there could be hundreds of thousands more daily Covid cases than the UK.

It could result in millions of Brits becoming isolated, possibly causing major disruption to their workforce and key industries.  

Boris Johnson has been accused of inflicting a lockdown by stealth’ on the hospitality sector after Chris Whitty, Professor Chris Whitty, urged that people limit their socialising over the following days.    

Yesterday Mr Johnson denied making the claim, telling reporters, ‘We are not saying we want to cancel stuff. We’re also not locking down anything. The fastest path back to normality, however, is to be boosted.

Many small restaurants and pubs are closing down because their staff has contracted Covid, and they aren’t available or their reservations have been cancelled. The majority of venues are still open, and only a few large chains have closed. 

On Thursday night, the Welsh government declared that they would shut down all nightclubs starting December 27th and will impose a social distancing limit of two meters in office spaces.