Brits ‘put themselves in lockdown’ in desperate bid to save Christmas as streets deserted

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City centres, shops, restaurants and pubs during the usually hectic festive period appear to be all but empty in some parts of the country as it appears Brits aren’t prepared to take the risk of getting pinged or catching Covid ahead of Christmas

Regent and Oxford Street pictured silent in the run-up to Christmas as would-be shoppers stay away
Regent and Oxford Street pictured silent in the run-up to Christmas as would-be shoppers stay away

Many Brits appear to have put themselves into self-imposed lockdown to save their Christmases as Covid cases rates rocket.

As Omicron rampages across the UK, causing consecutive days of record high Covid cases, some would seem to be taking matters into their own hands in the absence of tougher restrictions.

In the days leading up to Christmas, shops, restaurants, pubs and more have struggled with cancellations as potential punters try to avoid the virus that would force them to not see loved ones on December 25.

This led to some of the country’s usually busiest streets, shops and restaurants being turned into virtual ghost towns during what should be one of the most manic times of the year, in the run-up to Christmas.

Pictures show how some of the capitals usually busiest streets were almost completely deserted today during what should be one of the busiest shopping days ahead of Christmas.

Quiet streets in London’s financial district as weariness of Omicron combined with ‘Work From Home’ guidance has left Britain’s streets like a ghost town
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SIPA USA/PA Images)

Some of the major thoroughfares of London were pictured nearly empty.

Restaurants and shops are usually packed to the brim this time of year as Brits get their last minute shopping and festive dining.

However, with the fourth Covid wave, driven by the new variant, they find themselves struggling without customers.

This comes as Boris Johnson confirmed no new restrictions would be introduced before Christmas, but refused to rule out bringing them in after the 25.

On top of that, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced grants of up to £6,000 per premise for hospitality and leisure firms who have been affected by waves of cancellations, despite initially resisting pressure to do so.

A survey by Ipsos MORI has revealed that a majority of Britons are now taking matters into their own hands.

To prevent catching the virus, 58 per cent of people said that they are avoiding public transport or plan to do so, with 57 per cent saying the same about going to pubs and restaurants, and social gatherings.

The Northern line underground station this morning during rush hour as less and less people rush into the city because of weariness of covid
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w8media / SplashNews.com)

Kiran Khanom, from London, wrote on Twitter : “It’s my first day of Christmas hols!! Omicron has cancelled 90% of my plans but looking forward at least to some rest and time with family after an incredible and busy year!”

And fellow Twitter user Kez added: “I’ve cancelled plans, i’m not going out and testing daily as I’m seeing my Mum on Thursday.”

Others have decided to cancel their Christmas plans altogether to avoid the risk.

Jacqueline Hughes, posting a tweet in a supermarket with two Irn Bru six packs wrote: “Closest I’m getting to Scotland this year. Cancelled plans last minute to keep family members safe. I’ve cried a lot. Love to all.”

Local authorities will be able to administer hundreds of millions in grants, with 200,000 businesses set to benefit, and the fund for cultural organisations will get a £30million boost.

However, the new support was desired as “far too little” by Michael Kill, chief executive of Night Time Industries Association.

He said: ‘Businesses are failing, people are losing their livelihoods and the industry is crippled. Mixed messaging, coupled with additional restrictions, have had a catastrophic impact on our sector over the last two weeks.”

Empty shops on London’s Regents street as Brits self-impose isolation to avoid catching Covid ahead of Christmas
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w8media / SplashNews.com)

He criticised the lack of strong leadership and strategy from the government and was not alone in calling out the lack of decisive decision-making and leadership.

Paul Fleming, general secretary of Equity, the trade union for performing arts workers, also criticised the financial support and singled out the Chancellor specifically.

He said: “Many producers, workplaces and artists are ineligible for Cultural Recovery Funding.

“Instead of another inadequate, vague, headline deal for bosses and buildings, we need an urgent plan to protect all those working in theatre and entertainment industries during this critical Christmas season.”

Shops, bars, restaurants, theatres and more have been left nearly deserted as people stay at home voluntarily
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w8media / SplashNews.com)

Head of theatre workers union Bectu, Phillippa Childs, also slammed the government and singled out the Culture Recovery Fund as inadequate to help those in need.

She branded it “not equipped” and “too cumbersome and too slow.”

On top of that, London’s theatres have fallen similarly quiet as punters stay away.

After his Cinderella production was axed due to ‘Covid-related absences’ Andrew Lloyd Webber tweeted: “Once again, this wretched virus has put paid to the joy of entertaining audiences, something that I hold so dear.

Oxford Street, in London, usually is packed with Brits getting in some last-gasp Christmas shopping this time of year but now sits quiet
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Image:

w8media / SplashNews.com)

“Sadly this is the right thing to do, not just for the safety of our cast, musicians and backstage crew, but for the quality of the show we give our audiences who travel long distances and make significant investments to come and see us.

“Rest assured, Cinderella will re-open as soon as this wave is licked and we know we can give our audiences the fantastic time they deserve.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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