Omicron is a common way Christmas revelers avoid celebrating.

LONDON (AP), Christmas revelers in Europe are now lying low and changing their plans due to new restrictions and fears regarding the omicron version of the coronavirus. This increases concerns about another lost holiday season for restaurants, shops, and airlines already affected by the pandemic.

Omicron is a common way Christmas revelers avoid celebrating.

On Friday, Wales and Scotland pledged millions of pounds to help British businesses affected by the latest surge. This put pressure on Boris Johnson's government in England. Rishi Sunak, Treasury chief, is meeting with business representatives to discuss their demands for more support. He denounces a "lockdown of stealth", in which government officials suggest people stay at home as much as possible and don't enforce the strict rules of previous shutdowns.

Many European countries are closely monitoring the spread of omicron. The Danish government proposed Friday closing all theaters, concert halls and amusement parks in Denmark in response to an increase in the number of cases of omicron. Experts said that this was more than they expected.

The increase is more dramatic in Britain than elsewhere. Britain reported record infections this week, partly due to the new variant.

A wave of cancellations is being reported by businesses, from pubs and theatres to vacation providers. Customers are choosing to be safe than risk getting infected and miss holiday celebrations with their families and friends. Although experts believe that omicron is more contagious than other viruses, little else is known. This uncertainty is enough to make many cancel their plans.

Britain's Christmas pantos, a beloved holiday performance where the audience shouts warnings at the cast and takes part in loud evenings, are under threat. After customers decided to not attend shows, the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry in western England had to refund 180,000 pounds ($240,000) in ticket sales. The company had to cancel 12 performances in "Beauty and the Beast", as half of the cast was positive for HIV.

"There's been an actual dent in confidence," Joanna Reid, Executive Director, told BBC.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, stated Friday that financial aid for businesses must be provided by the central government, which has the borrowing power necessary to finance the required scale of assistance.

Sturgeon stated that "business is already bleeding, every 24-hour counts", during a briefing held in Edinburgh, Scotland. There is no time to waste.

As restrictions on the spread of omicron increase during holiday season, the already fragile travel and tourism sector is particularly being hampered.

Eurostar, which runs trains across the English Channel and sold out tickets to France Friday before new rules regarding travel to Britain were implemented. The Eurotunnel runs the tunnel used by drivers to cross the water, and long lines surrounded the parking lot.

Amanda Wheelock, a 29-year-old grad student at Michigan, cancelled a trip to France together with her partner because of the high number of cases there. Although the increase isn't necessarily due omicron, Amanda Wheelock, a grad student at the University of Michigan, cancelled a trip to France with her partner because of the uncertainty surrounding the new variant and the requirement that all U.S. travellers must test negative before returning to the U.S. She was worried that the trip might be more stressful than enjoyable.

Instead, she is going to Alaska to visit friends. She was afraid that she would spend a lot of her trip trying not to get infected and wouldn't be able to fully enjoy France.

Wheelock, who hails from Arvada in Colorado, said that a vacation filled with stress is not a good vacation.

She's not the only one. According to The Advantage Travel Group (which represents approximately 350 U.K. agents), business fell by 40% between mid-December and a month ago. These numbers include package holidays, cruise bookings, and flights.

"Our members deal with customers who are very nervous about traveling now," she stated. "They're nervous about bookings in the New Year because there's a chance that the government will have more knee-jerk responses."

Sunak met Thursday with representatives from the hospitality industry to discuss their concerns regarding how they would survive another season of declining revenue amid Britain's dramatic rise.

Abta, a trade association representing the travel industry, argued that it should receive the same attention as the government. Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps were requested to meet with the group urgently to discuss the sector’s "current financial condition and pressing financial need."

Chief executive Mark Tanzer stated that the government had recognized the dire state of the U.K.'s hospitality sector. Trade was down 40% in December, and that the government had made efforts to address it. "But at the exact same time, the travel sector, whose income has fallen by 78% this past year and further impacted since November by omicron restrictions, continues to receive inattention."

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