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Shoppers flood Britain's high streets on first weekend after lockdown
5 December 2020, 19:57 | Updated: 5 December 2020, 22:33
Shoppers have flooded high streets on the first weekend after lockdown restrictions were lifted in England.
Tens of thousands headed to London's Regent Street and Oxford Street on Saturday.
Queues formed as the major high street brands introduced post-lockdown sales ahead of Christmas.
They were joined by London mayor Sadiq Khan, who welcomed the reopening of shops that have been closed for weeks.
"Retail and hospitality businesses in the West End have been hit hard this year, putting thousands of jobs and livelihoods at risk," he said.
"They need our support now more than ever. It was great to be out on Regent Street today for the first of three traffic-free Saturdays."
Westminster authorities are trying out a car-free scheme on the West End's busiest high streets in a bid to make them safer for shoppers, workers and tourists.
The crowds took full advantage of the scheme to widen pavement, named 'Traffic-Free Saturdays', which takes place on Regent Street from 09.30am -11.00pm on December 5, 12 and 19.
Mr Khan also warned people to stay safe this weekend, tweeting: "Whether you’re heading out to do Christmas shopping or to see friends, remember: wear your face mask in all indoor spaces, keep a two-metre distance and avoid busy times."
Many were seen queuing outside Debenhams stores for closing sales after it collapsed into administration earlier this week.
The department store is one of several major high street casualties during the pandemic, with tens of thousands of jobs at risk across the retail sector due to lockdown and weakened spending power.
There are concerns large crowds, combined with Christmas gatherings, could fuel a New Year surge in Covid-19 cases and result in a third lockdown.
Last week Professor Susan Michie from University College London said last week that shoppers would be playing a game of "Russian roulette" every time they go indoors where other people who might be infected are.
Asked by LBC's Tom Swarbrick how much time could be spent in a shop to keep customers and staff safe, she said: "No time."