Crowded scenes at Nottingham's 'Winter Wonderland'

Many shoppers flood to Christmas markets every year and Nottingham is no exception. But in light of the pandemic many are questioning why the annual market was allowed to take place.

Nottingham’s Christmas market was forced to close for the rest of the year this weekend after being open for just one day.

The Winter Wonderland market experienced large crowds flocking to the city centre. After pictures were shared on social media of the chaotic scenes in Old Market Square it was clear to see that the market was breaking many COVID restrictions.

There was little sign of people wearing masks and a complete lack of the 2m social distancing.

With Nottinghamshire currently operating under Tier 3 restrictions it is clear that the Christmas market should of been cancelled like it was in Leicester, Manchester and many other cities.

Since Thursday October 29, before the national lockdown, Nottinghamshire was under Tier 3 restrictions meaning nobody living in Nottinghamshire since then has been able to mix indoors or even in private gardens.

Scenes like this in the City centre have rightly caused anger and upset with residents who haven’t been able to see family, friends and loved ones for over a month.

How are people not allowed to socially distance in a garden but can go to a market not wearing face coverings or masks and come into contact with thousands of people?

This event will undoubtedly increase the risk of a spike in COVID infections in the city, and that any hopes of moving into Tier 2 at the next review could now be in jeopardy.

The ill-judged decision created an unacceptable risk to public health. It also potentially jeopardises the progress made in reducing the COVID infection rate across the City over the last few weeks.

The Market being open, even for one day, will have a knock on effect and the NHS will suffer the consequences.

Coronavirus is a illness that places unprecedented demands on hospitals and it stretches them to their capacity.

It also doesn’t just affect the hospitals and the institution as a whole it affects people.

The NHS staff who have been working so tirelessly for months will now have to face more stress when COVID admissions go up.

Didn’t we clap as a nation every Thursday night for a reason?

Common sense would dictate that holding a Christmas themed market, on the first weekend shopping day since the reopening of non-essential retail, would generate significant additional footfall in Market Square.

Since September and the return to university, college and school many students have been blamed for spreading coronavirus and being behind the cause of the high rates in Nottingham.

However the majority of students have now returned home for Christmas and the Market was still packed full of people.

It makes you question was it fair to shift the blame completely onto students when the photos show the crowds to be filled with people of all different age groups.

The stall holders at the Christmas Market, many of them local, have brought stock that they now can’t sell.

The independent traders will now make no money in what is a vital time of year for them after what has been an incredibly difficult year.

In a joint statement from Mellors group, which operates the Market, and the city council said: “Public safety and the safety of the stallholders has always been first and foremost in all the decisions we have taken.”

If the safety of the stallholders was so paramount why did they open the Market in the first place?

The decision not to have a Christmas Market should have been made months ago and then the stallholders would have known where they stood.

That would have been the best way of Mellors group and the city council protecting them and not allowing them to lose even more money.

It was obvious that after months of reduced social interaction a Christmas market would invite people into the city.

The intention to spread festivity and magic by opening the Christmas market instead of protecting public health during a global pandemic was reckless, stupid and unsafe.