London's Broadway Market packed despite lockdown

8 November 2020, 09:09 | Updated: 8 November 2020, 09:20

A crowd at Broadway Market this weekend
A crowd at Broadway Market this weekend. Picture: Twitter/weeziewurlitzer

By Asher McShane

People were pictured flouting the government's lockdown rules in their thousands yesterday as they flocked to London's Broadway Market.

The streets were crowded with visitors enjoying food and drink from stalls, despite government advice to stay at home as much as possible and only leave for essential reasons.

People were seen enjoying drinks in the sunny autumn weather and queueing for food.

Last week market organisers said it will "remain open for essentials and takeaway services only."

A large crowd near a canal in east London
A large crowd near a canal in east London. Picture: Twitter/Michael Berg

"We will continue to operate our markets with covid-secure measures, including hand sanitising stations, face masks, additional support staff, and social distancing advisors," organisers said in a statement.

But after packed scenes on Saturday, they were forced to close early.

People turned up to Broadway Market in large numbers, despite lockdown
People turned up to Broadway Market in large numbers, despite lockdown. Picture: Twitter/Michael Berg

"Unfortunately, due to the increased number of visitors in Broadway Market, we have made the decision to shut down the market early today. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

"Protecting the community is our upmost priority."

One person wrote online: "I’m a key worker and was home today as I didn’t have a valid reason to go out. Patrols needed so the lockdown has some chance of working."

"The amount of people using that market as an excuse to mingle during a pandemic is sickening, has been since March really. No social distancing, no mask wearing, no common sense or respect for the vulnerable if not their own health!!"

Some traders selling essential goods said they were angry that people were present in such large numbers 'taking selfies', forcing organisers to close the market early.

One trader posted online: "It's only got essential food stalls open like our meat stall.

"We have had to cease trading here as there are too many others out mingling with coffee in their hands and taking selfies. Good for them as they are also likely on furlough."

Londoners were also seen in large numbers by the Regents Canal.

Selling takeaway alcohol is still allowed following a u-turn by the government. Shoppers are allowed to visit supermarkets, with no prohibitions on what they can buy. 

People in England are generally being urged to remain at home during the second lockdown or face fines.

Met officers were deployed to Broadway Market in Hackney, with police seen patrolling the streets.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: "At around 14:34hrs on Saturday, 7 November, police became aware of a large number of people in Broadway Market E8.

"Officers engaged with members of the public and encouraged them to leave the area.

"At around 15:17hrs on the same day police were informed of a large crowd watching a busker in the market.

"Officers attended and engaged with those present. They were then dispersed.

"No arrests were made and no fines were issued."