Business leaders fear they will miss out on billions from Christmas shopping ...

Business leaders fear they will miss out on billions from Christmas shopping ...
Business leaders fear they will miss out on billions from Christmas shopping ...

Businesses warned Boris Johnson last night that the 'chilling effect' of Covid restrictions will cost the economy 'billions' in the run-up to Christmas.

Pubs and restaurants said people were already cancelling their Christmas parties even though there is no requirement to wear masks in hospitality venues.

Meanwhile, airline bosses warned that the updated testing requirements since the emergence of the latest strain was putting the industry's fragile recovery at risk. Bookings have weakened and fears are rising that carriers could see a wave of cancellations.

And Steve Brine, a former Tory health minister, said the Government's decision to make all contacts of those testing positive for the Omicron variant self-isolate would have a 'chilling effect'. He added: 'There's everything in the language and the narrative that's coming out of government right now that is causing Christmas parties to be cancelled.'

It comes as easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said bookings had 'softened' since the Omicron strain emerged and the Government brought in costly travel rules that will require passengers to isolate until they have a negative PCR test result regardless of their vaccination status.

Mr Lundgren, writing in the Daily Mail, pointed out airline shares had dropped 13 per cent within hours of the announcement of the change. 'Ministers must ensure their decisions are backed by data and precautions are kept in proportion to the threat,' he said.

Pubs and restaurants said people were already cancelling their Christmas parties even though there is no requirement to wear masks in hospitality venues. Pictured: Mia Barraball and customer Tallulah Cody in masks at Headmasters, Kingston-upon-Thames

Pubs and restaurants said people were already cancelling their Christmas parties even though there is no requirement to wear masks in hospitality venues. Pictured: Mia Barraball and customer Tallulah Cody in masks at Headmasters, 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.

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. And early signs are that the variant is a mild form of the virus.

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

Clive Black, retail analyst at Shore Capital, said: 'This will cost the economy billions. It is a calamity.

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