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Health & Fitness: Christmas parties under threat - cancellations as new strain causes panic

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Firms in the UK are opting to cancel their end-of-year events - with many choosing a more low-profile celebration. The emergence of the new variant and the talk of Plan B being implemented are both part of a number of reasons for firms changing their tune for events this year.

Law firm Osborne Clarke is one company who are choosing low-profile to high-profile events this year as cases continue to rise.

The firm's managing partner Ray Berg told MailOnline: "We asked our people and their preference is for local team-level celebrations, so we're opting for low key festivities rather than big shindigs this year.

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"Given the emergence of a new variant I think we made the right call, no one wants to have a second lockdown Christmas."

Chief executive for UK Hospitality, Kate Nicholls, also spoke about the dangers which the new variant poses to nights out ahead of the festive period.

Ms Nicholls said: "We support the Government's proportionate response to the new variant, which strikes the right balance between swift action to protect health while avoiding the significant economic, social and mental health harms associated with broader restrictions.

Christmas © Getty Christmas Boris © Getty Boris

"It is important to remember that hospitality operators have invested significantly to ensure the safety of staff and customers, focusing on better ventilation, hygiene and sanitation, measures which SAGE recommend are the most effective measures of infection control.

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"This means hospitality venues will be far safer places to socialise with family and friends this Christmas than at home.

"However despite this, the chilling talk of Plan B is already being felt across hospitality as bookings are cancelled and plans changed.

"There is no doubt that this will have a damaging effect on businesses, just as they head into their key trading period.

"This all comes at a critical time for the sector, as costs are rising across the board, supply chain issues continue, chronic labour shortages show no sign of easing and next year will see a return of 20% VAT rate."

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Jonathan © Getty Jonathan Lockdown © Getty Lockdown

However, pub chain Mitchells & Butlers say they have "no plans" to make any changes to the Christmas plans they have in place.

A spokesperson for the chain said: "We are excited to be heading into the busy festive period and celebrating Christmas with our guests and colleagues.

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"We have no plans to make any changes to our Christmas party plans but we will have Covid protocols in place and continue to monitor Government guidance to ensure we maintain a safe environment for everyone."

Health insurance provider Aviva joined Mitchells and Butlers by proclaiming their Christmas nights out will continue as normal.

A spokesperson said: "Christmas events are going ahead as planned, and with sensible precautions in place such as taking a lateral flow test on the morning of the event."


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Health Secetrary Sajid Javid revealed his hopes for a "normal" Christmas this year when speaking with Sky's Trevor Phillips on Sunday.

Mr Javid said: "I think it's fair to say that the nature of this pandemic is it would be irresponsible to make guarantees.

"As for Christmas, I think people should continue with their plans as normal for Christmas.

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"I think it's going to be a great Christmas."

Nicola Sturgeon echoed the Health Sec's hopes in a recent press conference about the threat of the Omicron variant.

Christmas tree © Getty Christmas tree

Ms Sturgeon said: I'm not asking you to change your plans.

"I know it's three weeks to Christmas and none of us, including me, wanted to be in a position where I'm standing here again talking about a new variant that is posing risks.

"If any of our advice changes it's important that we do that in a proper way and we communicate it in a proper way.

"Individuals, human beings, will factor in contingencies into all sorts of plans they make and I'm sure there will be many who will be thinking about 'if X happened what will I do?', instead of what they were planning to do."

The First Minister added: "Standing here right now I still hope, really fervently hope, to be having a normal Christmas with my family. Can I say that in a 100% sense? No, but that's what I hope and I think that's what we should all be hopeful of as we learn more about this variant."

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