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UK diners slump after Omicron hit, staff absences hit record

Thursday, January 13, 2022
UK diners slump after Omicron hit, staff absences hit record © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Empty tables are seen in a restaurant amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in London, Britain, December 18, 2021. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

By David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) -British restaurant reservations slumped last week when a wave of COVID-19 cases was near its peak, while COVID-related staff absences hit a record high, data published by the Office for National Statistics showed on Thursday.

The figures underscored the impact of a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant and which hit a peak on Jan. 4. Cases have dropped 19% over the past week, giving some economists confidence that the economic damage caused by Omicron will be contained.

Restaurant reservations in the week to Jan. 10 sank to 88% of their level for the equivalent week in 2020, before the start of the pandemic, from 134% the week before, according to figures from bookings company OpenTable published weekly by the ONS.

Pubs and restaurants have not faced new COVID-19 restrictions in England - unlike in the rest of the United Kingdom - but many patrons have chosen to stay away.

Some 44% of businesses in the food and hotel sector reported an increase in cancellations in December, rising to 64% for businesses in the 'other services' category which includes firms such as beauty parlours.

Separate Bank of England data on credit and debit card spending in the week to Jan. 6 - which are not seasonally adjusted - showed a fall to 82% of its February 2020 average from 86% the week before.

Meanwhile, an ONS survey for late December, also published on Thursday, showed that private-sector businesses reported that 2.7% of their staff were absent because they had COVID symptoms or were isolating, the highest since comparable figures began to be collected in June 2020.

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17-01-2022 20:23:23 (UTC+7)

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 EUR/USD1.1420↑ Buy
 GBP/USD1.3657↑ Buy
 USD/JPY114.53Sell
 AUD/USD0.7218↑ Buy
 USD/CAD1.2505Neutral
 EUR/JPY130.78↑ Buy
 EUR/CHF1.0429↑ Buy
 Gold1,819.50↑ Buy
 Silver23.047↑ Buy
 Copper4.4295↑ Sell
 Crude Oil WTI83.78↑ Buy
 Brent Oil86.60Neutral
 Natural Gas4.266↑ Sell
 US Coffee C239.65↑ Buy
 Euro Stoxx 504,302.14↑ Sell
 S&P 5004,662.85↑ Buy
 DAX15,933.72↑ Sell
 FTSE 1007,611.23↑ Buy
 Hang Seng24,218.03↑ Buy
 Small Cap 20002,161.55↑ Buy
 IBEX 358,838.70↑ Sell
 BASF68.140Neutral
 Bayer52.82↑ Buy
 Allianz227.05↑ Buy
 Adidas252.65↑ Buy
 Lufthansa7.241↑ Sell
 Siemens AG146.00Neutral
 Deutsche Bank AG12.018↑ Buy
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