Huge crowds of Christmas shoppers fill UK shopping streets despite coronavirus fears


Main streets and markets were filled with Christmas shoppers as scientists urged Britons to rethink Christmas gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Photos show crowded shopping streets in London, Leeds, Newcastle, Cardiff and Birmingham, with shoppers urged to socialize and comply with face mask rules as they search for gifts and bargains for 13 days before December 25.

In central London, the streets of Oxford and Regent were crowded as millions of Britons had to spend around £ 1.7bn on shops, fearing that London and other places would soon be transferred to the level 3 due to rising infection rates.

The market in Romford, in the borough of Havering, east London, which has one of the highest infection rates in England, was also smashed as council pleaded with residents to follow the rules and “take action now” to stop the spread of the virus.

Stores on Regent Street in central London were busy on Saturday

Havering’s seven-day rolling rate of new Covid-19 cases was 430.7 in the week to December 7, with 1,118 new confirmed infections.

It went from 302.4 in seven days as of November 30, when there were 785 new cases.

Havering Council pleaded on Friday: “Due to the increase in coronavirus cases, Havering is at risk of level 3 restrictions.

“We are working hard to educate our residents on the dangers of not following the rules, and to remind everyone to take action now to help stop the spread of infection. Do your part to keep Havering safe.

Romford market was busy as local council begged residents to follow the rules

Northumberland Street in Newcastle was full of shoppers on Saturday afternoon

In the north of England, buyers have descended on Northumberland Street in Newcastle, which is at level 3 ahead of the government’s review of local lockdown levels next week.

The infection rate has plummeted in the city, but its senior public health official, Professor Eugene Milne, said he did not expect the Northeast to be moved to Level 2 after the Thursday exam.

There were similar scenes in Cardiff as shoppers began to make their final preparations for Christmas.

It came as Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health for Wales, said the country was facing an “incredibly serious situation” with a “growing wave of infections” since the rules were relaxed on the 9th. November.

Shoppers in the streets of Birmingham which is on level 3

Brits are expected to spend around £ 1.7bn on stores in cities such as Leeds

He told BBC Breakfast: “This is extremely serious. It is up to all of us to play our part.

“All of those people doing the right thing should keep doing it, everyone needs to think back to how many people they see, what contact they have with them, and think about how you can reduce your costs. contacts to protect you and each other. . ”

In Birmingham, council chief Ian Ward said the city should remain at level 3 during Christmas and New Years, as calls for it to be brought down to level 2.

Leeds shops also appeared to be busy with hopes that parts of Yorkshire could move from level 3 to level 2 next week due to falling infection rates and hospital admissions.

A man carries a Christmas tree over the Hayes in Cardiff

Carnaby Street Christmas lights in central London are a big draw every year

While the UK has recorded the highest number of Covid-19 deaths on a Saturday since April, UK consumers are expected to spend £ 1.7 billion in stores on Saturday.

That’s over £ 3million per minute over nine hours of trading. Many stores are extending their opening hours as Christmas approaches and Primark is even keeping two of its stores open for 36 hours over the weekend.

Around 130,000 buyers were expected at the Trafford Center in Manchester, as well as 60,000 at Brent Cross in north west London and 80,000 at Lakeside in Thurrock, Essex.

Online shoppers have faced significant delivery delays as the pandemic spurred pre-Christmas internet sales to increase.

Royal Mail has warned that strict Covid-19 restrictions and self-isolated staff have left it struggling to handle “exceptionally high volumes” during the boom in online shopping.

The UK has reported 519 new coronavirus deaths – the highest total on a Saturday since April and a 30% increase last Saturday – and 21,502 other laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease.

The number of confirmed cases increased by 5,963, or 38%, out of the 15,539 infections announced on December 5.

It brings the total number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 64,025 and the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 1,830,957.

However, the actual toll would be much higher, as 75,092 deaths have so far been recorded in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, according to the latest reports from UK statistical agencies.

Regent Street in central London has been pedestrianized for the holiday season

People carry bags in a Lego store in Birmingham city center

Meanwhile, a public health expert has warned that easing restrictions on coronaviruses across the country during the five-day period of the Christmas bubble is a “mistake” that will have “consequences.”

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said she was concerned about people traveling from areas with high infection to areas of the country with low prevalence of the virus.

The UK government and decentralized administrations have agreed on a joint plan to ease social distancing rules for five days during the holiday season, between December 23 and 27, allowing friends and family to kiss each other for the first time in months.

But Professor Bauld told BBC Breakfast: ‘From a public health point of view, I have to be perfectly honest, I think this is a mistake.

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“I think people have to think very carefully if they can see their loved ones on the outside or do it in a very modest way.

“I’m also concerned about travel, people moving from high to low prevalence areas.

“I think it’s going to have consequences. ”

However, Professor Bauld added that if the government backs down on the commitment, trust in politicians could be eroded further.

Christmas is now less than two weeks away (pictured: buyers in Leeds)

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She continued, “I fully understand why governments are doing this. People’s behavior has had enough.

“If you meet people inside other households, there is poor ventilation, maybe older family members are in these bubbles, unfortunately because the virus has not been eliminated… I think that means Christmas time is a risk. ”

The latest coronavirus data shows, for the seven days leading up to December 7, of the 315 local areas in England, 179 have seen an increase in case rates, 135 have seen a decrease and one is unchanged.

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty earlier this week warned the public to be “very, very sane” and not to go “too far” over Christmas, which he called “Very risky period”.

Scientists have already urged people to rethink Christmas amid growing infections, warning the country is headed for “disaster.”

Just because people can meet doesn’t mean they should, according to Independent Sage.

Independent Sage is also asking for a fuel allowance in the event of a pandemic so people can keep their homes ventilated while turning up the heat to stay warm.

Professor Stephen Reicher, University of St Andrews, said: “At the moment we are heading towards disaster.

“Given the high levels of infection across the country and increasing levels in some areas (like London), it is inevitable that if we all choose to meet at Christmas, we will pay the price in the New Year. ”


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