An outdoor Christmas market in Nottingham has been forced to shut after just 24 hours due to overcrowding – as thousands of shoppers ignored social distancing rules on the first weekend after lockdown.
Pictures described as “Shocking!” by the mainstream media, showed hundreds of people rammed together in Old Market Square – in the centre of the city which is in Tier 3 – for the first day of the Christmas market.
It has now been shut temporarily after organisers were criticised for a lack of social distancing.
The Mellors Group, which runs the event in conjunction with Nottingham City Council, said: ‘In light of the unprecedented high footfall seen up and down the country for retail nationally, we have decided to temporarily close the Christmas market today.
‘The pent-up demand for a city-centre offer was far higher than normal and we feel this is the most appropriate way forward.’
Nottinghamshire Police said officers were at the market all day to provide visible presence and to break up large crowds in the area.
It comes on the second day of what is expected to be a £1.5billion spending spree during the festive period, shoppers in Kington, Herefordshire were pictured carrying bags of goods and waiting in queues outside Marks and Spencer.
Many also wrapped up warm to hit soon-to close Debenhams and Nike stores on Oxford Street in central London.
On what is the second non-working day since lockdown ended on December 2, shoppers were out in force in the hope of snapping up Christmas deals with prices slashed by up to 80 per cent.
Games designer Luke Brown, 24, from The Meadows area of Nottingham, said there were at least a couple of hundred people at the market, describing it as “crazy”.
He said: ‘I was on the outskirts of the market as there were so many people on the inside, many people were not wearing any masks at all and there was definitely no two-metre distancing.
‘I was highly uncomfortable being there so we literally went home after five minutes.’
It comes as hundreds of young people tried to enter Harrods last night, causing what the mainstream describe as “mayhem” by gathering outside the London store and prompting four arrests under the fascistic, dictatorial regulations, after police swooped in.
On the high street, retailers hope today’s purchases will breathe life back into a sector which has been hammered by the shutdown caused by Government imposed restrictions.
The lifeline for struggling stores comes after a week of high street woes as 26,500 jobs were put at risk at retailers including Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group and Debenhams – which have been severely impacted by the Government imposed restrictions.
Two out of three smaller firms and self-employed workers have had to stop trading at some point in the past six months because of the government imposed restrictions, new research suggests.