Nottingham Christmas market closed for rest of the year after social distancing criticism

7 December 2020, 07:07

Big crowds at the Christmas market in Nottingham on Saturday
Big crowds at the Christmas market in Nottingham on Saturday. Picture: Luke Brown/PA

By Megan White

The Christmas market in Nottingham will be closed for the rest of the year after it was forced to shut amid criticism over the lack of social distancing.

Organisers said they were "sorry it has not worked out" after hundreds of people crowded into the attraction in Old Market Square on Saturday, prompting angry social media posts online.

Events firm the Mellors Group, which operates the Christmas market, said it had to temporarily close the attraction on Sunday, just one day after opening, but later announced it would be closed for the rest of the year.

Read more: Police step in as huge crowds gather in London and Nottingham

In a joint statement with Nottingham City Council, Mellors Group said: "Plans were in place to control access to help manage the number of people entering the site at any one time and to continually monitor this throughout Saturday.

"However, numbers were too large to implement these effectively."

The busy market closed after just one day
The busy market closed after just one day. Picture: Luke Brown/PA

It said the city centre saw significant footfall on the first Saturday since the second national lockdown in England was lifted, and that it was "notably busier than anticipated".

It continued: "Now that we have seen how busy the city centre was overall yesterday (Saturday), we have taken the decision not to reopen the market again at all this year.

"We know this will be very disappointing for many local people who were looking forward to visiting and for the stall holders, many of them local, for whom this was a vital opportunity to trade in what has been an incredibly difficult year."

It added: "The views being expressed both for and against are very important to us and we have listened carefully.

"The decision to go ahead with the market was not taken lightly nor has the decision to close.

"We're sorry it has not worked out."

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

Games designer Luke Brown, 24, from The Meadows area of Nottingham, said there were at least a couple of hundred people at the market, describing it as "crazy".

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."

The city was placed in Tier 3 - the toughest measures - of the new Covid-19 restrictions which came into force in England from Wednesday, after the four-week national lockdown ended.