Boris Johnson was warned last night by businesses that Covid restrictions would have a chilling effect on the economy and cause a ‘billion’ economic losses in the lead-up to Christmas.

Restaurants and pubs reported that people had already cancelled Christmas parties, despite the fact that masks are not required in hospitality establishments.

Airline bosses have warned that updated testing requirements following the recent strain’s emergence could put the fragile industry’s recovery in jeopardy. The bookings are declining and there is a growing concern that cancellations could be imminent.

Steve Brine is a Tory former health minister who said that the decision by the Government to isolate all contact information of Omicron-positive individuals would cause a “chilling effect”. He said: “There is everything in government’s language, and narrative right now that causes Christmas parties to be cancelled.”

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said that bookings have been’softer’ since Omicron emerged. The Government also introduced costly travel rules that require passengers to be isolated until they receive a negative PCR result. This will apply regardless of vaccination status.

In the Daily Mail, Mr Lundgren pointed out that airline shares fell by 13 percent within hours after the announcement. He said that Ministers need to ensure that their decisions are supported by data, and that precautions are taken in response to any threat.

People were cancelling Christmas parties at restaurants and bars, even though they aren’t required to wear masks when dining in restaurants. Pictured are Mia Barraball, Tallulah Cody and Tallulah at Headmasters in Kingston-upon-Thames.

And Emirates airline president Tim Clark said a hit to the peak December travel season – when millions across the world travel to see friends and family – would cause ‘significant traumas’ for businesses.

Criticisms claim that Johnson’s announcements were an exaggerated reaction, considering that there have been only 22 cases of omicron in England so far. Early signs suggest that this variant of the virus is mild.

They say the moves are contributing to a renewed climate of fear, hitting consumer confidence – with the hospitality sector especially hit.

Clive Black of Shore Capital was a retail analyst. It’s a catastrophe. The Christmas parties have been cancelled.

Patrick Dardis of Young’s pubs wrote in The Mail: “Within hours after being informed that a new Covid variant had been identified by the government, phones began ringing at the Young’s 300 restaurants, pubs and hotels.

And it wasn’t all good news. Christmas party cancellations, cancelled dinner bookings, postponement of weekend events until unknown dates, and mini-breaks aborted. It is being replicated across the nation.

Critics have claimed that Mr Johnson's announcements are an over-reaction, given that only 22 omicron cases have so far been found in England. Pictured: Maskless commuters in the capital were confronted by Transport for London Staff yesterday

Critics claim that Johnson’s announcements were an exaggerated reaction to the fact that there have been 22 cases of omicron in England so far. Pictured: Yesterday, Transport for London Staff confronted maskless commuters in London.

Damian Wawrzyniak (an award-winning chef, who owns House of Feasts in Peterborough), told BBC: “We had 20 cancellations last weekend, mostly for Christmas parties. Hospitality has been waiting to Christmas for a long time and, if that doesn’t happen as we hoped for it would be, then there will be casualties.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Neame, boss of Shepherd Neame – Britain’s oldest brewer – said: ‘We should hold our nerve, not panic and remember that most pandemics end with a mutation to a mild form of the disease.’

Catherine Mann, Bank of England policymaker and Suren Thiru from the British Chambers of Commerce head of economics, said that the fourth quarter GDP numbers could be seriously affected.

The Government’s revised self-isolation rules were feared by them as a potential ‘pingdemic’ and could worsen the current staff shortages.

After being informed via the NHS app that someone had tested positive, many workers ended up staying at home.

Some 32 Conservative backbenchers yesterday rebelled to oppose the self-isolation regulations, while 19 opposed the face mask rules. Pictured: A woman is spoken to about mask wearing after the new rules came into force

Yesterday’s rebellion by 32 Conservative backbenchers was against self-isolation regulations. 19 opposed face mask rules. Pictured: After the new rules were implemented, a woman talks about wearing a mask.

Yesterday’s rebellion by 32 Conservative backbenchers was against self-isolation regulations. While 19 were in opposition to face mask rules,

Brine warned of isolation rules, saying: “We need to think about the impact this has on confidence and society. Hospitality workers have invested everything in this Christmas to ensure their survival and save the year.

Sir Desmond Swayne Tory MP for New Forest West said that: “We’re about to have another panic as we get closer to Christmas to the enormous disadvantage of all businesses in the country.

Alec Shelbrooke MP for Elmet and Rothwell said that he received numerous emails from travel agencies in his constituency whose potential bookings had fallen off a cliff due to the high cost of PCR testing. My honourable friend mentioned a ‘chilling effect’ but it goes deeper than that – there is also a huge impact on business.’