According to business and health leaders, the rules governing covid isolation must be eased to avoid Britain grinding to a standstill.

They warned the ten-day rule was ‘lockdown by stealth’ – keeping people at home even when their symptoms and infectiousness had eased.

According to leading doctors, quarantine might be lifted early for patients who have tested negative at least twice in a week.

Daily virus cases hit a record 93,000 yesterday and are expected to go much higher – raising fears that self-isolation will cause chaos to schools, hospitals and the economy.

It is not yet known whether Omicron – the Covid variant driving the surge – is milder. However, victims recover faster and may become less infectious just three to five days after a positive test, according to evidence from South Africa.

‘People are most infectious in the first five days, after which time infectiousness falls,’ said Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia.

‘Some people are no longer infectious after three days and it makes no sense to keep them locked up.

‘Isolating people for ten days when they are no longer infectious will harm the economy and leave vital public services, such as the NHS, short-staffed. People could perhaps take a daily lateral flow test and be allowed to leave quarantine if they test negative for two days in a row.’

Dr Bharat Pankhania, a lecturer at the University of Exeter medical school, added: ‘Safely reducing the quarantine period from ten days could increase compliance, improve staffing in healthcare and benefit the economy.

‘Confirmed cases may take a daily lateral flow test and be allowed to leave after having three negatives in a row, or take one PCR after five days.’

They called at:

  • According to the NHS, it administered a record number (861,306 doses of booster vaccines) on Thursday.
  • Downing Street had announced the Cobra meeting. This triggered speculation about more restrictions for Christmas.
  • Welsh Government announced they will close nightclubs beginning December 27th and reinstate two-meter social distancing within offices.
  • Ireland has imposed an 8pm curfew on all 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.
  • These new figures show that Omicron South Africa has seen a decline in deaths and hospitalisations despite records.
  • California Governor Rishi Sunak returned from California to meet with hotel bosses about financial assistance.
  • This weekend’s jab centre will include 3000 locations including racecourses, christmas markets, and football stadiums.
  • Yesterday’s vaccine shortage forced pharmacists to cancel booster appointments;
  • The authorities warned care homes that residents must have the opportunity to spend Christmas with their loved ones.
  • Omicron cases are now expected to double every other day, but this has been downgraded due to more prudent behavior.

COVENT GARDEN… Left: 2019. Right: Today. Despite the influx of Covid cases, Friday’s popular London jaunt was relatively quiet.


WESTFIELD… Left: 2019. Right: Today. This sprawling shopping mall in London was closed Friday, despite it being Christmas week.

A shopping street in Gloucester. The latest Covid 19 infection has left shoppers unable to shop and will make Christmas difficult for retailers.

Gloucester Quays pictured today. Lots of people are deciding to stay away from pubs and restaurants to avoid catching Covid before Christmas

Photo of Gloucester Quays today Many people have decided to forgo pubs and restaurants in order to prevent Covid from being caught before Christmas. 

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

Manchester saw slightly more shoppers today, 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 

Boris Johnson was today urged to relax the 10-day quarantine rule for positive cases in favour of a test and release scheme to stop Omicron 'disabling everything'

Boris Johnson was today encouraged to lift the 10-day quarantine for positive cases to favor a testing and release program to end Omicron from ‘disabling all’

London’s Covent Garden was crowded in November 2019. It is almost empty today in this picture. 

Today’s empty Westfield Shopping Centre in London, and the Black Friday Sales in November 2019. 

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. 

Can you really cut down the 10 day quarantine safely? 

For how long is someone infectious?

Academics suggest that Britain’s Covid sentence for self-isolation could be reduced by half to only 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 spikes quickly so that people become highly infected within the first few days. 

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

These tests are best used to identify people with the highest infectiousness. They can be done in less than fifteen minutes. 

In samples from the throat and nose, they look for antigens (viral proteins).

However, the kits have a lower sensitivity than gold-standardPCRs. These PCRs send swabs to labs to analyse for viruses. 

They are more likely to not spot an infected person, and less likely they will give a positive outcome if they have already reached their maximum infectiousness.

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

Positive PCR results do not automatically mean that someone has a contagious disease. 

Fire Brigade Union claimed that Covid cases in London have been “skyrocketing” over the past week. They claim almost 10% of all operational firefighters are either positive for the disease or self-isolating.

In the meantime, many restaurants and bars have been closed due to lack of business or staffing.

Self-isolation – from the point of infection or a positive test – was initially one week until it was extended to ten days in July 2020. 

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a former Tory party leader, said the lower figure could be reinstated: ‘This variant is not as fierce, and we have vaccines in play, so there is a very good argument for shortening the time that people have to self-isolate for.’

Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London restaurant group, said: ‘The period of isolation should certainly be reviewed in the context of Omicron causing a milder and more short-lived illness than Delta.’

Jonathan Neame of Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer, said: ‘Once we are past Christmas, and assuming no material change in deaths and hospitalisations, I would call for all restrictions to be lifted and encourage people to get boosted if they have not already. Quarantine should be cut or removed altogether.’ 

On any given day, around 12,000 NHS staff were sick or wasolating due to Covid. More than 20 primary school pupils tested positive.

Doctors and nurses had to avoid wards for 10 days for anyone who was infected by the virus.

This was in contrast to August’s rules for the remainder of the country. Double-jabbed individuals did not need to self-quarantine in the event that someone within their family contracted the virus. Officials wanted to ensure the safety of vulnerable hospital patients.

The household rule was quietly repealed in the updated guidance that was sent to NHS heads yesterday. If they receive a negative PCR result, workers should immediately return to work. The workers should then perform daily lateral flow checks before they return for work.

It comes amid fears the NHS will be crippled by the incoming Omicron wave, with Government advisers warning of upwards of 4,000 daily hospitalisations — mirroring levels seen virus earlier this year when the health service was ravaged by Britain’s second wave.

Nicola Sturgeon spoke out at a conference to warn that the loss of essential services is possible due to the rising number of unemployed. She suggested that more restrictions might be necessary to avoid this.

An analysis of official figures suggests Britain could reach up to 460,000 daily cases by Christmas Eve — forcing 2million people into isolation — if Omicron infections continue to increase as quickly as some scientists expect.

This could cause a partial paralysis of the country and disrupt businesses as well as threaten services like the NHS and the national grid. 

A public health specialist and business leader shared their thoughts yesterday about how staffing problems could be alleviated by reviewing the existing rules, which require anyone who is positive for Covid isolation for at least 10 days.

MailOnline was asked by Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia about whether the 10-day period of isolation should be removed and instead changed to a “test and release” scheme.

“The main concern, aside from rising hospitalisations and cases, is that so many people could become isolated simultaneously we might run into serious staffing problems within vital services.”

He recommended reducing the time of mandatory isolation to just five days, and then requiring that people do daily lateral flow.

“Most people don’t get infected for more than 10 days. Most are out of their infection by the fifth day.

The spread of ‘Omicron has reached such a large extent that we have no control over it, however it is vital we continue to maintain society.

“Anything that decreases the economic and social harm without placing infected persons in situations where they could infect more people is a plus.”

Luke Johnson, serial entrepreneur and Chairman of The Bread Factory said that many businesses he had been in touch with had more then 10% of their employees working in isolation.

MailOnline reported that he said, “This means that the NHS and economy are at risk of grinding to a standstill very soon,” he stated. “The majority of the people who are isolating themselves don’t feel sick, and almost all those with symptoms describe it as a common cold.

Ten days alone is way too long. These tests have flaws and the spread of asymptomatic diseases is not proven.

He said, “We are in serious danger of disabling all – transport and supermarkets, food supply, hospital, etc., if we continue with the 10-day rules for people who have tested positive or been in touch with them.”

“We must reduce isolation time and permit release after a negative test is done. All isolation rules should also be scrapped if Omicron becomes milder.

Today, ‘California Chancellor’ Rishi Sunak has been pictured arriving back in the UK for crunch talks with furious hospitality bosses struggling with plummeting demand due to the Omicron mutant strain. 

Sunak, who was visiting the US to meet top tech executives on a long-planned’ Government trip, has come under fire for his timing. A senior British executive said that he was consumed with ‘organic kale smoothies.

Photos taken at town centre locations last night and today show that people continue to avoid them during peak times for business, despite mounting concerns about the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, the congestion level reported by TomTom in London at 8am was 40 per cent –  the lowest level all week. 

Today’s traffic levels were 33% in Birmingham, 36% in Manchester, 40% in Liverpool, 34% in Sheffield, 46% in Leeds, 28% in Newcastle, and 33% in Manchester.

Yesterday, Mr Sunak met with hospitality executives via Zoom. However, he had to cancel one roundtable event due to a call scheduled with US healthcare leaders.  

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. 

CNN was informed by Mr Sunak that he held in-person discussions today, despite cutting short his visit. He said, “I am aware that this is an alarming time for all business leaders in the country.” 

“I was in touch with the business leaders of industry. It’s why my trip has been curtailed and I will depart earlier tonight.

The Chancellor insisted ministers were not telling people to cancel their Christmas events, adding: ‘The situation is very different to what we’ve done and encountered before. 

“We are not asking people to cancel their orders, and we’re certainly not closing down companies.” 

Following the recent spread of the variant, and Covid’s advice to be more cautious before Christmas, cancellations have been a common occurrence in the hospitality sector. 

Bosses expect the final total to hit £4billion of lost takings. 

But Mr Sunak insisted ministers were already helping, telling the BBC: ‘Until spring next year most businesses are only paying a quarter of their business rates bill, they are benefitting from a reduced rate of VAT all the way through to next spring, and thirdly there is about a quarter of a billion pounds of cash sitting with local authorities to support those businesses.’ 

Pubs and restaurants have already been forced to close either due to a shortage of staff or a lack of customers as Omicron continued to tighten its paralysing grip on the nation this week. Pictured: An empty bar in Leeds

Omicron tightened its grip on the country this week, forcing pubs and restaurants to close due to staff shortages or lack of patrons. Pictured here: Leeds has a empty bar

After the UK had recorded an unprecedented number of daily new cases, few people could be seen dining in London late on Friday night.

Pubs and restaurants have already been forced to close either due to a shortage of staff or a lack of customers as Omicron continued to tighten its paralysing grip on the nation this week. Pictured: An empty bar in Leeds

Omicron tightened its grip on the country this week, forcing pubs and restaurants to close due to staff shortages or lack of patrons. Pictured here: Leeds has a empty bar

Once-bustling streets in London's Soho district (above) were sparsely populated on Friday evening amid Omicron fears

Omicron fear had caused London’s once bustling streets of Soho to be sparsely populated by Friday evening.

Shoppers out in Manchester this afternoon, with armed police mingling with them during a patrol

Manchester shoppers out and about this afternoon. Armed police were there to mix with them in a patrol. 

Industry experts fear the Government's increasingly alarmist messages surrounding the Omicron mutant strain are affecting customer confidence over what should be a peak period for pubs, bars and restaurants. Pictured: A quiet Soho on Friday

Industry experts are concerned that Government messages concerning the Omicron mutant virus strain may be alarming customers and threatening customer confidence during peak times for restaurants, bars, and pubs. Pictured: A quiet Soho on Friday

This restaurant in Newcastle had swathes of empty tables - while only a few revellers were out and about in bars

The restaurant was empty in Newcastle, whereas there were a handful of revellers out in the bars. 

Three women dressed as Santa Claus enjoyed a night out in Newcastle city centre yesterday - which was far quieter than usual

Yesterday night, three women dressed up as Santa Claus were out with friends in Newcastle’s city center. It was quieter than normal. 

Some bars in Newcastle managed to attract queues. However, it was still quiet for the time of the year - usually one of the busiest

Some bars managed to draw queues in Newcastle. However, the bar was relatively quiet considering the season. 

An empty platform at London Bridge underground station this morning after commuters were asked to work from home

After commuters were requested to work remotely, there was an empty platform at London Bridge Underground Station this morning  

An empty escalator at London Bridge today. The fall  in passenger numbers will be another blow for Transport for London, which is struggling with record debt

Today’s empty London Bridge escalator. The fall  in passenger numbers will be another blow for Transport for London, which is struggling with record debt 

LONDON: English cities were eerily quiet this morning too as commuters continued to stay away. The congestion level reported by TomTom in the capital at 8am was 40 per cent – the lowest level all week

LONDON: English cities were eerily quiet this morning too as commuters continued to stay away. The congestion level reported by TomTom in the capital at 8am was 40 per cent – the lowest level all week

LIVERPOOL: Traffic levels at the same period today were 40 per cent in Liverpool (pictured),  33 per cent in Birmingham , 36 per cent in Manchester, 34 per cent in Sheffield, 46 per cent in Leeds and 28 per cent in Newcastle

LIVERPOOL: Traffic levels at the same period today were 40 per cent in Liverpool (pictured),  33 per cent in Birmingham , 36 per cent in Manchester, 34 per cent in Sheffield, 46 per cent in Leeds and 28 per cent in Newcastle

Retail sales increased in November… But is an Omicron crash imminent? 

According to official statistics, UK retail sales grew in November due to shoppers hitting the high streets early for Black Friday shopping. According to the Office for National Statistics, retail sales increased 1.4% in November, an increase of 0.8% in October.

This reading came in better than analysts expected. Analysts predicted 0.8% growth. According to the ONS, sales volume across the sector are now 7.2% more than they were before February 2020’s pandemic.

Non-food retail sales increased by 2.2% in November, which was an increase of 2% over the previous month. The growth of sales in clothing shops, at 2.9%, was a key factor. Sales surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

Heather Bovill (ONS deputy director for economic surveys and indicators), said that retail sales increased in November due to the strong Black Friday and preChristmas trading. The sales of clothing shops fared especially well, surpassing their levels before the pandemic.

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 claimed they could not close their doors because of coronavirus infected staff.

Yesterday, Mr Sunak, Chief Secretary to Treasury Simon Clarke, called firms such as Prezzo, Black Sheep Brewery and Nando’s.

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

As Omicron surges, it is possible that hundreds of thousands of Covid cases could be recorded in the UK by Christmas Eve.

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 socializing 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 way back to normality and security is to get boosted.

Smaller restaurants and pubs are closing down because their staff are suffering from Covid, and they aren’t available to take bookings. These venues are still open, and few large chains have closed. 

Yesterday Evelyn’s Table, a London society favorite in Soho was forced to close due to “members of the core team being isolated”. 

A group of friends posing for the camera in Newcastle. Bars and restaurants are smarting from lower than normal demand

Newcastle, Australia: Friends pose for the camera with a group of people. Restaurants and bars are smarter because of lower demand 

Barrafina Drury Lane of Covent Garden stated that staff were isolating made the services non-viable, while Kol at London’s Marylebone claimed it had no choice but to temporarily shut down while key members are isolate.

Darjeeling Express, near Leicester Square, reported a double whammy in staff sickness coupled with massive cancellations of groups. Blend Kitchen in Sheffield claimed a 50% fall in bookings. 

British Chambers of Commerce President Baroness Ruby McGregor Smith warned yesterday that virus cases rose to an all-time high of 88,376 and 146 deaths.

Britain could see up to 460,000 Covid cases per day by Christmas Eve, which would mean that two million people will be forced into isolation if the infection rate continues to rise as scientists anticipate. These large numbers can cause major disruptions to services because people are off work. 

Although government contingency plans allow for military personnel to be called into the service to fill in any gaps, such as those in the NHS, Border Force, and energy workers, these troops are not tested in real life. Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital Trusts in London reported that 10% of their staff is currently absent due to Covid. 

If the number of people testing positive doubles every three days, then there would be 463,704 daily cases on Christmas Eve. That would force the 1.9million people testing positive between now and then into isolation for 10 days, the equivalent of 3 per cent of the population

If there were 463 704 people who test positive every day, that would mean that Christmas Eve will see 463 704. This would place the nearly 1.9 million people who have tested positive in the last 10 days into isolation, which is equivalent to 3% of the total population. 

Such huge numbers could partially paralyse the country, causing 'huge disruption from people being off work' and threatening key services including the NHS and police, experts claimed. Graph shows: The number of NHS staff off work with Covid every day over the last two weeks. Dips on December 5 and 12 occurred on Sundays, when fewer staff are working and therefore less absences are expected. Figures are expected to increase in the coming weeks

Experts claim that large numbers of people could cause paralysis in the country. This would lead to ‘huge disruption due to people not being at work’, and potentially threaten important services such as the NHS and the police. This graph shows the number of NHS employees who have been absent from work for Covid over the past two weeks. On Sundays (December 5th and December 12), dips occurred when less staff were working so there is less chance of absences. In the next weeks, figures are likely to rise