Hedge fund host Christmas party - three days later every single attendee has Covid 5 months ago

Hedge fund host Christmas party - three days later every single attendee has Covid

Boris Johnson's 'work from home' but 'go to your Christmas party' guidance had serious consequences

An entire company has tested positive for Covid - after following the Prime Minister's advice on Christmas parties.

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While Boris Johnson advised Brits to work from home as part of 'Plan B' restrictions last week, he maintained that Christmas festivities should go ahead as usual.

So, last Thursday a London hedge fund followed his advice thinking, "we aren’t going to see each other for months, so let’s have a 'last hurrah'."

By Monday, the 15-strong team - at a firm that declined to be named - had all tested positive for Covid. To make matters worse, one team member, who wanted to be known only as Mark, had visited his elderly parents days earlier unaware that he was carrying the virus that has claimed 146,00o lives in the UK. He's now terrified he might have given them Covid.

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"I would never have gone had I known," he said.

Mark, a hedge fund manager, now admits the Christmas party was "a bit idiotic" and has told how colleague's festive plans have been thrown into chaos: The company's boss has been quarantined in a government hotel in the Maldives having tested positive on arrival, while the rest of the office, encumbered by headaches and roaring sore throats, are battling to keep the company afloat while working from home.

The party, held in the private room of a swanky Soho restaurant, saw colleagues “sharing plates” in a “fairly airless room” late into the night. "It was stuffy, it was raining outside - London was absolutely rammed," Mark explained.  

“I think the government saying from Monday you will have to work from home, but telling us to go ahead and have your Christmas parties inspired an element of 'we aren’t going to see each other for months, so let’s have a 'last hurrah'," he said. 

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Mark says if Johnson had advised against hosting Christmas parties, the company might have reconsidered their plans. "We would have taken a more sensible, holistic approach if the advice had been different."

'We went because we'd already paid the deposit, ironically, it's probably cost more than that in absences'

George has a cracking headache, a burning fever, and six more days in isolation. He went to his work Christmas party on Friday, by Monday half the people that attended tested positive for Covid.

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“There was no discussion about the party not going ahead, but it was unspoken knowledge that we shouldn’t be doing it," he said. 

“The government should have gone further, and not told people to party” George believes, “it would have taken the decision out of company’s hands, and not left it up to whim."

George, who did not want to provide his surname, added: "It's definitely net-damaged the company, we're really struggling to keep up with our customers - as most of the company is off sick."

The small IT company currently has 11 cases of Covid. The remainder of the company is self-isolating.

"We went because we'd already paid the deposit, ironically, it's probably cost more than that in absences," George lamented.

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'If people had been warned about the risks, they might have reconsidered going to their Christmas party'

Sarah’s media production company had a negative lateral-flow policy for their Christmas party, but that didn't stop Covid from ruining things. 

Sarah is now self-isolating after 10 of the 13 people she spent most of the night with tested positive. 

“I’m not sure there were any plans to cancel it as it was the night of the announcement last Wednesday,” she said. “The company has a fairly decent Covid policy most of the time, with strict restrictions in the office”. 

Sarah, who declined to give her surname, says if people had been warned about the risks and massive spike in Covid cases earlier - Johnson warned Sunday of an Omicron "emergency" -  they might have reconsidered going to their Christmas party. 

“If I'm honest, I don't think he should have banned Christmas parties but maybe should have made a statement earlier about the risks rather than two weeks out from Christmas when lots of plans were already in motion.”

Sarah is facing the prospect of spending Christmas in her tiny flat: "I'm worried I'll test positive for Covid in the next few days, and today (Tuesday) is the last possible day I can test positive and be out of isolation in time for Christmas day."

'My girlfriend can't go home to see her parents in Spain for Christmas'

James and his partner went to their respective work Christmas parties last Monday, they both tested positive for Covid on Thursday.

The media company James, who also only wanted to be identified by his first name, works for had largely been working from home, but all got together to celebrate the festive season.

“I’m double jabbed, and the symptoms are mild so far - but it’s thrown our Christmas plans out the window," he explained. 

"We failed equally," he jokes of the predicament he and his partner now find themselves in.

James' girlfriend is now unable to travel home to see her family this Christmas.

He only took a PCR on advice from his boss: "Interestingly, my lateral flow tests have only today (five days after the PCR positive) given the slightest hint of a positive result, so it was lucky we went ahead with the PCRs, otherwise it would've been relatively undetected for several days."

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