As the Omicron variety spreads across the UK, causing daily coronavirus infections to reach new highs, British businesses are closing their doors once more – but not because of government directives.
Instead, restaurants and other venues are deciding that they have little choice but to close for the holidays early due to a torrent of cancelled reservations and concerns about the health of their employees.
Mangal 2 restaurant co-owner Ferhat Dirik said he chose to close a week earlier than anticipated due to lost bookings and the “general uncertainty in the air.”
“It’s affecting staff morale, and it’s affecting us projecting any reasonable income that could justify this,” Dirik told CNN Business.
These closures of businesses and restrictions have become a new threat to the economy and a headache for the government because of the pandemic which has been happening since last two years. They show that, despite widespread pandemic fatigue, people are still willing to avoid going out when the number of cases is high enough. While the government has refrained from outright banning social activities, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has recommended citizens to only interact with others when absolutely essential.
However, unlike earlier Covid waves, governmental support for firms has reduced, leaving the hospitality industry stranded at a critical time. According to the lobbying group UKHospitality, its members make a fourth of their annual profit over the holidays.
“So much rested on this December period for businesses already staggering under a burden of debt incurred from the pandemic and facing rising costs across the board,” Kate Nicholls, the head of UKHospitality, said in a statement. “If operators are unable to trade profitably over the next month, many will simply not survive.”