Up to 400,000 foreign students will be able to work extra hours under a temporary relaxation of visa rules to ease crippling labour shortages, amplified by the isolation of thousands of workers in response to COVID-19.

As the omicron wave disrupts commerce, fuel stations warned motorists could suffer a repeat of UK petrol shortages, unless rules on virus-related isolation and foreign student visa holders were loosened to alleviate staff absentee rates of up to 40 per cent.

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