Boris Johnson was today encouraged to lift the 10-day quarantine for positive cases to allow him to adopt a testing and release program to prevent Omicron from ‘disabling everyone’.

Nicola Sturgeon, at a press conference today, warned that essential services may face threat from the increasing number of workers and suggested additional restrictions to prevent 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.

These huge numbers can partially paralyse the nation, disrupting businesses and threatening services such as the NHS and police. 

Today, the Fire Brigade Union  said Covid cases have been ‘skyrocketing’ in the London service, claiming that almost 10% of operational firefighters have either tested positive or are self-isolating. 

Some pubs and restaurants are already closing due to lack of business or staffing.

A public health expert and a business leader today suggested that staffing problems could be alleviated by reviewing the existing rules, which require anyone who is positive for Covid isolation to do so 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 issues within vital services.”

He recommended lowering the time limit for isolation to just five days, and then requiring that people do daily lateral flow.

It is said that most people do not become infected after 10 days. However, by day five many are no longer infectious.

Although ‘Omicron’ is rapidly spreading, there are very few things we can do. However it is crucial that society continues to thrive.

“Anything that minimizes harm to society or the economy and doesn’t put infected people in situations where it is possible for them to infect further people is a plus.”

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

MailOnline reported that ‘This is a sign the NHS and economy are at risk of collapsing to a standstill very soon’. “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 show no evidence of symptomatic spreading.

The 10 Day Rule for anyone who has been in contact or tested positive is not enough. We risk destroying everything, including transport and supermarkets.

We need to reduce the time of isolation and release negative results. If Omicron proves to be milder than we thought, all isolation rules should be scrapped.

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

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

Today’s photo of Gloucester Quays. To avoid Covid, many people decide to steer clear of restaurants and pubs in the run-up to 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. 

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. 

A empty Westfield shopping center in London during Black Friday 2019 sales 

Covid: ‘Ten percent’ London firefighters are now off the streets  

Officials from the union claim that Rising Covid cases has led to a staff shortage in London fire service and rescue, which is unprecedented.

According to the Fire Brigades Union, almost three quarters of all capital’s fire engine units have not been in action over the past week. Official statistics from the union showed that 40 fire engine were out of action on Thursday’s night-shift and day shifts, respectively. This was in response to similar incidents last week.

According to the FBU, Covid cases are’skyrocketing in London’ as Omicron spreads. It claimed that nearly 10% of firefighters operating today have tested positive for the Omicron variant or have self-isolated. Due to job cuts, the union stated that there was already a low level of rescue and fire staffing in London.

Jon Lambe from FBU London said that while the Omicron variant’s impact is devastating on London Fire Brigade, it should not have an adverse effect on Brigade. Almost a third are out of service.

“The main reason this is happening is that firefighter number are too low due to devastating cuts made to the London Fire Brigade from 2010. London has lost almost 10% of its budget, including 10 fire stations and 27 firefighters, since 2010 and one of five London’s firefighters.

“Firefighters worked tirelessly through the pandemic, assisting other agencies. Firefighters now need safety and assistance.

Today, Rishi Sunak held crunch talks with hospitality chiefs after deciding to return earlier than planned from a work trip to California to discuss the crisis facing the industry.  

Last night’s and today’s photos from the town centre showed that people continue to avoid these areas.  

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.

While Mr Sunak’s trip was reportedly planned by Government officials to meet top tech executives, critics have raised concerns about his timing. 

Yesterday he met with hospitality executives via Zoom, but he had to cancel one roundtable event due to a call scheduled with US health bosses. One British executive commented that he was too busy consuming ‘organic kale smoothies. 

CNN reported that Mr Sunak is now holding talks in person after cutting his visit short. He said that ‘I know this is a worrying time for business leaders throughout the country.’ “I have been in contact with business leaders from the industry and that’s why I’ve cut my trip short and will leave 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. The Chancellor said that ministers were not asking people to cancel Christmas events and they aren’t closing businesses.  

After the widespread spread of this variant and Covid’s latest advice to be careful ahead of Christmas, cancellations of hotel bookings have increased dramatically, the hospitality industry is asking the Government for financial assistance. 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.’ 

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. 

A quiet Soho in London last night. Normally the streets would be packed at this time of the year - just one day before Black Eye Friday

A quiet Soho in London last night. The streets are normally packed this time of year. This was just one day prior to Black Eye 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 in Newcastle were able to attract long lines. It was however quiet considering the season, which is normally one of the busiest times of the year. 

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

London Bridge’s empty escalator today. 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 rose in November…but is the Omicron crash on its way? 

According to official statistics, UK retail sales grew in November due to shoppers hitting the high streets early for Black Friday shopping. Retail sales volume increased by 1.4% for November according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), accelerating from 0.8% growth in October.

Analysts had predicted that the growth rate would be stable at 0.8%, and this reading proved to be better than anticipated. 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: “Retail sales increased in November due to strong Black Friday and preChristmas trading. Particularly, clothing stores did well. They have exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first times.

After being hit with a “double whammy” of employee absences, and falling consumer 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’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.

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.

This could lead to millions of Brits being forced to live in isolation and potentially disrupting key industries as well.  

After Professor Chris Whitty advised people to restrict socialising, the hospitality industry accused Boris Johnson that he has imposed a “lockdown by stealth”.    

Yesterday, Mr Johnson refuted the claims, saying to reporters that he didn’t want to cancel anything, that he wasn’t locking down stuff and that the fastest way back to normality was to be boosted.

Smaller restaurants and pubs are closing down because their staff are suffering from Covid, and they aren’t available to take bookings. However, many venues are open for business and only a few 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”. 

Some revellers in Leeds continued to celebrate last night on what would normally be one of the busiest nights of the year

Leeds revellers continued to party last night during what was normally one of the busiest nights in the year 

Helping hand: A man assists a fellow reveller with her footwear during an evening out in Leeds last night

Helping hand: During a Leeds night out, a man helped a woman with her footwear

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

Newcastle: A group of friends poses for the camera. Restaurants and bars are smarter because of lower demand 

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

Darjeeling Express, near Leicester Square, reported a double whammy in staff sickness coupled with massive cancellations of groups. Blend Kitchen, in Sheffield, said it saw a 50% drop 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 resulted in 146 deaths.

Britain could have as many as 460,000 Covid cases daily by Christmas Eve. This would put two million people in isolation, if infection rates continue to grow as predicted. This could lead to major disruption in key services due to people staying home. 

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. The equivalent of 3% per cent, that would mean the remaining 1.9million positive people between now and Christmas Eve will be forced into isolation for 10 consecutive days. 

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 claimed that such large numbers could paralyse parts of the country and cause a ‘huge disruption’ to people’s work and threaten key services like the NHS, police and other public safety agencies. Figure 1: Covid data shows how many NHS workers have missed work over the past week. The December 5, 12 and 13 dips were on Sundays when there are fewer employees working, and so fewer absences can be expected. The numbers are expected to grow in the weeks ahead