HUGE CROWDS AT NOTTINGHAM'S CHRISTMAS MARKET CREATE FEAR ABOUT COVID-19 TRANSMISSION
 

On Sunday 6 December 2020 the Nottingham Post's Senior Digital Reporter and Crime Correspondent and colleagues reported concerns voiced by politicians and residents about Nottingham's Christmas Market being held at a time when the city is in Tier 3, and the possible detrimental impact of the event on the area dropping back to Tier 2 soon. The controversy about Nottingham's Christmas market has been reported also by the BBC and other national media. ...

Fears Christmas Market could risk Nottingham's chances of escaping Tier 3

'Not at all clear why Nottingham City Council thought this was a good idea'

Politicians have reacted to crowds of people gathering at Nottingham's Christmas Market which has seen the event temporarily closed down.

Conservative MP Ben Bradley for Mansfield said Nottingham City Council should have predicted the Christmas Market crowds on Saturday, December 5.

He said: "Have to say, sadly, that the scenes in Nottingham around the Christmas Market yesterday could and should have been predicted.

"Not at all clear why Nottingham City Council thought this was a good idea when most other places have cancelled. 

"I totally understand wanting to see our economy opened up, I do too, but given where we are this is only likely to delay things if it causes figures to rise.

"The stalls and rides just turn an otherwise wide-open space into narrow corridors and force people to crowd together.

"At a time when we're all desperate to see our area drop into Tier 2 in a few weeks time this certainly won't help.

"I'm told that the rides will not reopen today as the council seek to reassess things. Probably wise."

Labour MP Lilian Greenwood for Nottingham South also wrote on Twitter: "Agree it was very crowded in parts of the city centre today, social distancing wasn’t happening and not much sign of it being actively managed."

Councillor Andrew Rule, leader of the Conservative Group at Nottingham City Council, said he expressed his concerns in a letter to the Labour leader of Nottingham City Council, Councillor David Mellen, last week. He claims he didn't get a reply.

He said: "We already saw with the kick out for pubs and bars at 10pm people congregating in Old Market Square afterwards. 

"I asked - what are you doing to stop it happening at the market? I certainly don't think it is a good idea to have the rides.

"If the market is risking an increase in transmission then it will keep us in Tier 3.

"The council's idea is it is a boost to retail but we may have risked taking away a wider sphere of businesses that can't open because the longer we stay in Tier 3, the longer they remain closed. 

"It will have a crippling impact on the livelihoods who depend on businesses in these sectors."

Nottingham City Council has referred Nottinghamshire Live to a statement issued by the Mellors Group who run the event in conjunction with them.

It 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.

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

It is not yet known if the Christmas Market will reopen next week.

[Matt Jarram, Nottingham Post, Sunday 6 December 2020]

Fears Christmas Market could risk Nottingham's chances of escaping Tier 3 - Nottinghamshire Live

Shoppers 'baffled' Nottingham Christmas Market was given the go-ahead

It has not yet been confirmed when the market will reopen

Shoppers in Nottingham have been reacting to the closure of the city's Christmas Market after hundreds of people visited on its first day.

Hundreds of people were pictured in Old Market Square and Long Row, with a lack of social distancing, despite being under Tier 3 restrictions.

The Christmas Market in Old Market Square opened for the first time on Saturday, December 5, with a big wheel, food and gift stalls and other rides.

One shopper told Nottinghamshire they were left "baffled" that the market was given the go-ahead this year.

But Mellors Group, which runs the event in partnership with Nottingham City Council, has decided to temporarily close the market only a day after it opened.

Reacting to the news Natasha Buxton, 37, of Radford, told Nottinghamshire Live: "I was baffled it was going ahead to be honest. The scenes yesterday were chaotic. It was so busy.

"It was bound to happen that it would be busy. All of the city was. We can't risk being in Tier 3 longer than we need to be.

"I do feel for the market traders having to close after one day. It's not easy for them and they will have bought all their stock."

Deborah Parr, 60, of Edwalton, said: "The city is still busy today. It's the run up to Christmas, it will always be busy. But I think closing the market is the correct decision.

"It's a different sort of Christmas this year and I just don't think there's enough ground space to run it safely. It was impossible to keep two metres yesterday from what I saw. I just don't think it can go ahead safely this year."

Penny Hayes, 55, of Mapperley, added: "It's a shame of course as people want a bit of normality, but I think everyone saw it coming from a mile off how it was going to go.

"It always has attracted crowds in the past. Loads of people turned up and it just looked very difficult to manage. I'm not sure why it was approved this year, I think it's a mistake and this is a sensible decision given the precarious position it could lead to with Covid infections in the winter months."

The market was meant to be open every day from December 5 from 10am to 9pm, until December 24.

Mellors Group or the city council have not yet confirmed when the market will reopen or if it will be running next week.

Before Sunday's closure, Nottingham City Council said it "fully understands" that giving the go-ahead for an event this year was an "emotive issue".

The local authority said a "reduced number" of stalls would be spaced out, leaving room for visitors to ensure that two-metre social distancing rules can be maintained.

Council staff were to monitor Covid-19 measures and capacity at all times – if necessary closing off areas of the square.

A spokesman for Mellors Group on Sunday, December 6, 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.

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

[Ben Reid, Digital News Correspondent, Nottingham Post, Sunday 6 December 2020]

Shoppers 'baffled' Nottingham Christmas Market was given the go-ahead - Nottinghamshire Live 

Police break up huge party at Christmas market in Nottingham as crowds dance to music with very little social distancing

  • Swathes of rule-breaking revellers gathered together in Nottingham city centre

  • City's legally-permitted festive street market descended into chaos on Saturday

  • Crowd of partygoers seen outside Nottingham's city hall while music blared

  • Man wheeling a bike with two speakers can be seen speaking to officers in clip

Police were forced to intervene after a huge party erupted at a Nottingham Christmas market on Saturday night.

Vast swathes of rule-breaking revellers gathered as the city's legally-permitted festive street market descended into chaos.

Partygoers were seen outside Nottingham's city hall, jumping up and down and raising their arms in the air as music blared.

A man wheeling a bike with two massive speakers mounted to the sides was seen speaking to officers in the clip.

Footage also showed a van and several uniformed police dotted about in the heart of city - which fell into Tier Three after the nation-wide lockdown was lifted this week.

Under the new rules, outdoor market stalls are permitted to keep trading but they must comply with national guidance.

The guidance states that all traders must wear face coverings and hand sanitiser should be provided at every stall. 

Nottingham's Christmas market operates a one-way system for shoppers and alcohol is not sold to prevent any merry visitors breaking the rules.

The number of people in the market can be capped if necessary and a staggered entry system is in operation.

The 10am to 9pm market opened its doors on December 5 and will remain open until Christmas eve.

But locals have mixed views on whether the market should go ahead this year - especially as the city has been put into the harshest lockdown tier in the Government's new system.

One local took to Twitter to share a picture of the huge crowds at the market with the caption: 'Clumber Street, Nottingham today and we are in Tier Three. 

'It will be a miracle if we don't have another huge increase in Covid cases.'

Melissa Chloe also shared pictures of the crowds and wrote: 'How on earth is Nottingham Christmas Market allowed to go ahead like this, but hospitality venues still not allowed to open with sensible protocols in place?'

Ruth Raven added: 'Nottingham is in Tier Three. Just a short drive from where I live. These are the official rules. 

'How on earth can the Christmas market be within these rules. It is an absolute farce.'

The UK today reported a further 15,539 Covid-19 cases. Of those, 252 were recorded in Nottinghamshire with 96 in Nottingham itself.

It was yesterday revealed that Christmas market visitors in Nottingham will see armed police around the city centre as the force steps up patrols for the festive season.

Officers - both uniformed and plain-clothed - will be out and about to tackle crime.

The force said this spike in police presence is normal around Christmas time.

It is not known if anyone was arrested at the Christmas market today.

Nottinghamshire police has been approached for comment. 

A Nottingham City Council spokesman told Nottinghamshire Live: 'Nottingham's Covid rates have fallen dramatically in recent weeks precisely because of the ongoing efforts of those who live and work in our fantastic city. 

'This year has been so hard for everyone, and we know Christmas – usually such a social and family-orientated period – unfortunately, isn't going to be the same in 2020.'

[Jemma Carr, MailonLine, Sunday 6 December 2020]

Police break up huge party at Christmas market in Nottingham | Daily Mail Online

Nottingham's Christmas market 'temporarily' closes after one day

Nottingham's controversial Christmas market has "temporarily" closed - just one day after it opened.

Mellors Group, who organised the event, said it made the decision following "unprecedented high footfall".

The Winter Wonderland opened on Saturday despite concerns from residents about holding the event while the city is in tier three of coronavirus restrictions.

A night time economy expert said people had been defecating in doorways.

The market was set to run from 10:00 to 21:00 GMT every day until Christmas Eve.

The decision for the market to go ahead came as similar events in other cities were cancelled including in Birmingham and Manchester.

Jo Cox-Brown, from Night Time Economy Solutions, said she had been in the city centre to support Small Business Saturday and witnessed crowds where people were close together and not wearing masks.

She said she worried the market could cause a spike in local coronavirus cases.

"It wasn't being well managed it wasn't being very well controlled," she said.

'Pent-up demand'

"People were defecating in doorways because there's no toilets open because hospitality is closed."

Ms Cox-Brown said many people who had been in touch were "really angry" the event went ahead and felt organisers were "putting their Christmas at risk".

Trader Simon Bonsai said he was "hugely disappointed" by the closure after a brisk day of trading on Saturday but said the decision was "obvious".

"It was so busy last night, there were too many people about," he said.

In a statement, Mellors Group said it would use the temporary closure to assess the situation.

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

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

[BBC News, Sunday 6 December 2020]

Nottingham's Christmas market 'temporarily' closes after one day - BBC News