Christmas market shut down after hundreds of shoppers appear to break social distancing rules

A Christmas market in Nottingham has been shut down after criticism over a lack of social distancing.

Pictures were shared online showing large crowds in Old Market Square on Saturday, with hundreds of people seemingly breaking the rules by being too close to each other.

Now, the Mellors Group which organises the market in the Tier 3 city, said it had to temporarily close due to “unprecedented high footfall”.

It comes after police were forced to disperse crowds outside Harrods in London yesterday as hundreds tried to get in to the department store on the first weekend since lockdown restrictions in England were lifted.

Nottinghamshire Police said officers were at the market all day to provide visible presence and break up large crowds in the area.

Luke Brown, 24, a games designer from Nottingham, said there were at least a couple of hundred people at the market.

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.”

In a statement, Mellors Group 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.

“The pent-up demand for a city centre offer was far higher than normal and we feel this is the most appropriate way forward.

“This will allow us to monitor footfall in the city centre today and ensure that our activities support residents and local businesses in an appropriate fashion.”

Nottingham was placed in Tier 3 – the toughest band – of the new COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday.

Four men were arrested for a string of offences, including affray and breaking coronavirus regulations, as shoppers appeared to ignore social distancing rules at Harrods.

Officers had to form a protective ring around the shop to try to manage the flow of people entering the London store.

Pictures showed large groups of young people taking selfies as they waited to be let in.

A Met Police spokesman said in statement: “Police were called to reports of a large group of people attempting to enter a shop in Brompton Road, SW1.

“Four males were arrested in total – two for affray, one for breach of COVID regulations, and another for a public order offence and breach of COVID regulations. The crowd have since dispersed.”