Businesses risk being devastated by ‘hidden closure’ as bars, restaurants and tourist points closed just days before Christmas
- Staff shortages and low number of shoppers on the main streets wreaked havoc across the country
- The sudden rise in the number of Omicron cases wreaked havoc on many Christmas plans after the train’s operating crew fell ill.
- West End shows including The Lion King and Book of Mormon have been canceled for a week due to the Covid outbreak among staff
- Pubs, restaurants and bars recorded a 40 percent drop in sales over the weekend
“Lockdown by stealth” continued to hit businesses yesterday as tourist attractions, bars and restaurants closed their doors.
A shortage of staff and a decrease in the number of shoppers on the main streets associated with a sudden rise in cases of the Omicron variant has decimated city centers across the country.
Christmas plans for thousands were also thrown into potential chaos after one in four rail operators canceled services yesterday due to staff illness.
In one of the busiest tourism weeks of the year, the Natural History Museum was closed yesterday due to a staff absence due to the ten-day isolation requirement.
It was joined by a series of museums and art galleries in London as well as Edinburgh Castle.
Meanwhile, West End shows including The Lion King and The Book of Mormon have been canceled for a week due to a Covid outbreak among cast and crew, and performances of The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House have been canceled until January.
Theatre’s director, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, told the BBC: “Whether the government shuts us down or surreptitiously shuts us down because of all the mixed messaging … the government needs to step in and help.”
A CHRISTMAS TALE: Clear walkways on the M25/M23 junction in Surrey at 8.45am yesterday indicated many were staying home.
His call came as the capital’s New Year’s Eve celebration, scheduled for Trafalgar Square, was canceled “in the interests of public safety”.
Pubs, restaurants and bars posted a 40 percent drop in sales over the weekend while the owner of the Green King chain said some locations were down 80 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
Emma McClarkin, of the British Beer and Pub Association, said the government’s warning about the Omicron variant – with the introduction of Plan B measures such as working from home – had caused public confidence to “slump”.
“Our recovery is at least six months late,” she added. “We’re back to square one – it’s like snakes and ladders.”
Simon Emini, of pub chain Fuller, Smith and Turner, announced over the weekend that he had decided to close 20 of London’s busiest spots due to low turnout.
Yesterday he said: “Plan B advice is hurting city centers. The Christmas party season has been cut short.
Once people get a booster dose, there is no reason why they can’t move on with their lives. If Plan B is kept longer than necessary, it will halt our recovery.
Packed sidewalks: Many were thought to be staying home due to concerns about the new alternative but hundreds of Regent Street crowded with last minute shopping at Christmas afternoon yesterday
One in ten restaurants – about 5,000 – is feared to have closed permanently since the start of the pandemic, with a slump in takeovers at Christmas potentially signaling the death knell for many.
Yesterday, Portland’s Michelin-starred restaurant was among dozens in the capital to announce it would close through January as customer numbers waned.
UK Hospitality said up to 10,000 sites could be closed permanently without urgent government support. CEO Kate Nichols has called for an extension of business rate easing.
“Hospitality is locked in everything but name. It will shut down thousands of businesses and lose tens of thousands of jobs,” said Andrew Taylor, owner of gastropub Mr Fox in Croydon, south London, which has faced an 80 per cent drop in bookings.
Meanwhile, rail operators have warned passengers to prepare for further delays and cancellations due to staff shortages.
Yesterday, about 13 percent of trains were canceled or late, as eight of the 28 major railway operators experienced staff problems related to the coronavirus.
It came as episodes of next week’s ITV breakfast show Good Morning Britain have been excluded in order to “protect” staff amid concerns about Omicron. He will be back on January 4th.