Pubs lose ALL their Christmas bookings 'overnight' amid Omicron spread

Pubs lose ALL their Christmas bookings ‘virtually overnight’ as hospitality industry faces onslaught of cancellations amid Omicron fears and mixed messages

  • Bosses said official warnings and WFH guidance had persuaded many to cancel 
  • UK reported 1,239 new Omicron cases; 10 people in hospital and one death
  • Criticism over PM backing Christmas parties while saying people should WFH  

Pubs have lost ‘all their Christmas bookings virtually overnight’, hospitality bosses said today – as fears over the Covid variant and mixed messaging from ministers ravage an already stricken industry. 

Bosses said government warnings about the threat of Omicron and new working from home guidance had persuaded many punters that it wasn’t worth going ahead with their festive gatherings. 

One London hotel told MailOnline it was expecting £100,000 worth of losses from cancelled events, rooms and covers – and said many staff were fearing for their jobs given the extent the industry relies on a lucrative Christmas period. 

Pubs are also being badly hit, particularly those in town centres or who rely on commuters.  

Mark Fuller, CEO of Karma Sanctum Soho, a boutique 30-bedroom hotel which includes a bar and restaurant, said he had seen up to £50,000 worth of Christmas events cancelled 


Gary Murphy, director of the Campaign for Pubs, told MailOnline: ‘It’s a massive problem all over the country’. High street expert Dr Jackie Mulligan (right) urged ministers to put in place fresh support for hospitality

Gary Murphy, director of the Campaign for Pubs, told MailOnline: ‘It’s a massive problem all over the country. 

‘Quite clearly the government’s message is to cut down on socialising, so inevitably a lot of firms are cancelling parties and individuals are deciding they are uncomfortable with going out. 

‘I’ve seen pubs that have lost all of their bookings virtually overnight, particularly those in town centres. Every time Boris Johnson goes on the TV and announces new restrictions people get more worried.’ 

Mark Fuller, CEO of Karma Sanctum Soho, a boutique 30-bedroom hotel which includes a bar and restaurant, said he had seen up to £50,000 worth of Christmas events cancelled.

Traffic levels drop by up to 50% in England’s biggest cities as commuters follow PM’s advice and abandon the office until 2022

In London, congestion levels dropped from 72% on November 29 and 69% on December 6 to 60% today.

In Birmingham, congestion levels dropped from 87% on November 29 to 64% on December 6 and 55% today.

In Manchester, congestion levels dropped from 89% on November 29 and 82% on December 6 to 53% today.

In Brighton, congestion levels dropped from 59% on November 29 and 55% on December 6 to 44% on Monday. 

In Hull, congestion levels dropped from 71% on November 29 to 64% on December 6 and 57% on Monday.

In Leeds, congestion levels dropped from 74% on November 29 to 56% on December 6 and 43% on Monday.

In Leicester, congestion levels dropped from 98% on November 29 to 60% on December 6 and 51% on Monday.

In Bristol, congestion levels rose from 60% on November 29 to 64% on December 6, but fell to 41% on Monday. 

He told MailOnline: ‘All our events have been cancelled. We are also seeing very, very large last minute cancellations for dinners and hotel rooms.

‘Overall we’re looking at least £100,000 worth of losses compared to 2019, which is a real dagger in the heart when there was no 2020.

‘Talking to my other friends in the industry events are getting cancelled left right and centre.

‘What was going to be a great Christmas has now turned into a complete and utter damp squib.

‘People are worried for their jobs, because the hospitality industry is hugely reliant on Christmas and if you don’t have a good one there are big questions about what is going to happen in January.

‘I understand why people don’t want to risk it so I’m certainly not angry at them. But we’re not seeing any support from the government.’

Chris Hanson, who runs Blend Kitchen in Sheffield, said he had lost of 30% of his bookings so far. 

‘The loss to city footfall is dramatic for our business and we are already seeing cancellations,’ he said. 

‘The government needs to step in to help city businesses right now who are losing trade at this key time.

‘We are an employer and use local suppliers so the impact on lives and livelihoods is significant – especially as we are a social enterprise too.’

Footfall in London’s West End remains 30% down on pre-pandemic levels.  

Government High Streets Task Force expert and ShopLocalOnline.org founder, Dr Jackie Mulligan, urged ministers to put in place fresh support for hospitality.   

‘The silence from Downing Street around a lack of support for hospitality and other businesses impacted by the Omicron variant is deafening,’ she said. 

‘For many small businesses, it feels like the Government has stopped fighting their corner and has instead opted to hide in one. 

‘Footfall on the high street has dropped off significantly following the working from home guidance, while Christmas parties are being cancelled left, right and centre. 

‘Small hospitality and retail businesses are a resilient bunch but we simply can’t leave them hanging like this. The mixed messages and uncertainty at such a crucial time of the year are proving a nightmare.’ 

Chris Hanson, who runs Blend Kitchen in Sheffield, said he had lost of 30% of his bookings so far

The UK last night reported another 1,239 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant – an increase of 65 per cent over the past 24 hours. 

However, Health Secretary Sajid Javid admitted that just 10 people had been admitted to hospital. Today, Boris Johnson announced the first death.  

The PM is still insisting Britons can attend Christmas parties, but many are increasingly wary of the risk of large gatherings and are anticipating tougher rules down the line. 

Under Plan B, people in England are being advised to work from home, while Covid passports have been brought in for large events. 

There is was incredulity today about the PM’s insistence that people shouldn’t go to the office, but should still go to Christmas parties and dinners.  

According to NHS data, many older age groups who have been eligible to get a Covid booster since September still have double digit percentage figures of people who are yet to get a third dose. Yesterday, the NHS online booking system for Covid boosters was opened up to the over 40s. 81 per cent of people aged 40-to-49 have yet to have a booster. 

Pictured above is the current pace of the booster programme (green bars) and how it will have to ramp up to hit the million jabs a day target (red bars). NHS bosses warn scaling up the programme will be ‘incredibly difficult’

This graph shows how many vaccination centres were open in April during the first drive, compared to the numbers involved in the booster roll-out. It reveals there are fewer mass vaccination centres now than previously

Stephen Reicher, professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews and a member of the Government’s Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘At the moment, we’re in a situation where the new variant in effect is coming at us like an express train.

‘We’ve got to do something or else we’re in real danger of overwhelming our society and overwhelming the NHS.

‘And there’s so many things you can do. The first thing, and the most obvious thing, is that if you reduce the number of social contacts you have you limit the spread of the infection.

‘Now, nobody wants to give up their Christmas parties, and nobody wants to miss out on meeting up with people.

‘It’s a little bit like Christmas dinner – if you have too big a Christmas breakfast, then you spoil your appetite for your Christmas dinner, which is what really counts.

‘And I think, in the same way, we need to think really seriously about our contacts. How important are they? Do we really need them and is it more important to act carefully now so that the contacts we really want and we really need are still happening?’ 

 

The NHS waiting list for routine hospital treatment in England has reached 5.83million, official data reveals marking the eleventh month in a row that the figure has hit a record high. Some 1.6million more Britons were waiting for elective surgery — such as hip and keen operations — at the end of September compared to the start of the pandemic

Pictures from London this morning suggested working from home guidance was already having an effect, with Waterloo, Euston and Paddington, usually rammed with commuters between 7am and 9am, largely empty. 

Tube platforms and carriages were also largely unoccupied as offices emptied.

Traffic was also running freely on routes usually choked with traffic on the quietest Monday morning rush hour in London since September 6, MailOnline can reveal, with one central London resident tweeting: ‘I’m slap bang in the middle of London and roads are unbelievably quiet now’. 

Another commuter tweeted: ‘Work from home order well and truly back. Tube is absolutely empty this morning’.

Roads and railways across the UK including in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle were also quiet this morning.

The working from home recommendation is the latest step of Mr Johnson’s Plan B to slow the spread of Omicron in the UK – but critics including his own MPs believe it is simply a stepping stone towards another lockdown.

A near empty Waterloo station at 7am today as commuters stayed at home after Boris Johnson’s work from home guidance frustrated City bosses

Paddington was similarly deserted this morning as people stopped commuting until the New Year at the earliest

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