Companies are at risk of being devastated by “stealth lockdown”, when bars, restaurants and tourist hotspots close just days before Christmas.

  • Staff shortages have led to devastation in the country, as well as a decline in sales on high streets.
  • Omicron case surge means many Christmas plans have been thrown into chaos by train operator staff who were sick.
  • Covid outbreaks at work forced West End shows such as Book of Mormon, Lion King, and Book of Mormon to be cancelled for a week. 
  • Restaurants and bars also reported a 40 percent drop in their sales during the weekend  

Businesses were still being impacted by the “lockdown through stealth” yesterday when tourist attractions, restaurants and pubs closed.

In cities all across the country, the Omicron variant surge has led to staffing shortages as well as a drop in the number of shoppers at high streets. This is causing devastation.

Because of illness, one-fourth of rail companies cancelled their services yesterday and caused chaos for thousands of Christmas plans.

Yesterday was a busy week for tourists, but the Natural History Museum had to close yesterday due to absences of staff because of the mandatory ten-day isolation.

This was followed by many other London museums, art galleries and Edinburgh Castle.

Due to Covid epidemics, West End shows like The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, and The Book of Mormon had to be cancelled for one week. Meanwhile, performances of The Nutcracker at The Royal Opera House were canceled until January.

Theatre impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh told the BBC: ‘Whether we’re shut by the Government or shut by stealth because of all the mixed messages… the Government does need to step in and help.’

A tale of two Christmases: Clear lanes on the M25/M23 intersection in Surrey at 8.45am yesterday suggested many were staying at home

Two Christmas stories: Yesterday’s clear lanes at the intersection of M25/M23 in Surrey, at 8.45 AM yesterday suggest that many people were at home

He called as Trafalgar Square’s New Year celebration was cancelled ‘in order to protect the public’.

The weekend saw a slump of 40% in pub sales, while bars and restaurants reported a drop of 82% at some locations.

Emma McClarkin, of the British Beer and Pub Association, said Government caution over the Omicron variant – with the introduction of Plan B measures such as working from home – had caused public confidence to ‘nosedive’.

She said that our recovery was delayed at most six months. ‘We are right back to square one – it is like snakes and ladders.’

Simon Emeny, of Fuller, Smith and Turner pub chain, stated at the weekend that due to low foot traffic, he decided to close 20 locations in London.

He stated yesterday that the Plan B advice was destroying cities’ centres. The Christmas celebration season was severely cut.

It is okay for people to have a booster once they are over it. Our recovery will be halted if Plan B is not used as soon as possible.

Packed pavements: It was thought many were staying at home due to fears over the new variant but hundreds packed Regent Street for last minute Christmas shopping yesterday afternoon

People crammed the pavements. Although many people were hesitant to leave home because of concerns about this new variant, hundreds crowded Regent Street yesterday afternoon for their last-minute Christmas shopping.

It is feared one in ten pubs – around 5,000 – have had to close permanently since the start of the pandemic, with a slump in Christmas takings potentially signalling a death knell for many more.

Portland, a Michelin-starred restaurant with 650 employees was one of many in Washington to announce its closure yesterday.

UK Hospitality, an industry body, stated that up to 10,000 sites may close without immediate Government support. Kate Nicholls is the chief executive and demanded an extension of business rates relief.

Andrew Taylor of the Croydon gastropub Mr Fox said, “Hospitality has been locked down in every way except name.” The result will be thousands upon thousands of business closures and the loss of thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, train operators reminded passengers to be ready for cancellations and delays due to shortages of staff.

Today, around 13% of trains were delayed or cancelled. Eight of the major railroad operators experienced staff issues related to coronavirus.

This was due to the fact that next week’s ITV breakfast program Good Morning Britain had been cancelled amid concerns about Omicron. The show will be back on January 4.