Revellers hit the town ahead of xmas


Hardy revellers across Britain have braved lockdown restrictions, freezing temperatures and even the mutant Covid virus to enjoy a few hours of freedom. 

 In York, a number of people dressed in festive garb were spotted in the city centre, though numbers were definitely down on previous years. 

Several people posed, though with shops reporting massive decreases in footfall compared with last Christmas Eve, it was hardly surprising there were less people out at night. 

This woman in York was one of the few people spotted getting into the Christmas spirit hours before the arrival of Santa 

With bars and restaurants across the country closed and restrictions on meeting with people from other households, many decided to avoid going out

With bars and restaurants across the country closed and restrictions on meeting with people from other households, many decided to avoid going out

Others enjoyed a quiet night in a restaurant ahead of tomorrow's big day

Others enjoyed a quiet night in a restaurant ahead of tomorrow’s big day 

People across the UK stepped out of their homes for a Christmas Eve bell-ringing session after one woman’s campaign went viral.

The initiative was launched on Facebook by Mary Beggs-Reid from Harrogate in North Yorkshire and has since received the backing of famous names such as fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore, actor Michael Sheen and even Boris Johnson.

The two-minute event saw many families head out on to the doorstep to jingle bells in solidarity with those spending Christmas alone.

Posting on Facebook before the event, Ms Beggs-Reid wrote: ‘We can not physically be together but we can ring together! A chance for us to feel connected and have a happy memory of 2020.’

This woman wearing a Santa hat and a mask walked through York City Centre

This woman wearing a Santa hat and a mask walked through York City Centre 

Major shopping areas reported fewer customers while only a mall percentage of people risked venturing out for a walk

Major shopping areas reported fewer customers while only a mall percentage of people risked venturing out for a walk

Ordinarily on Christmas Eve these streets would be filled with revellers enjoying a few drinks before going home for the festivities

Ordinarily on Christmas Eve these streets would be filled with revellers enjoying a few drinks before going home for the festivities 

A woman wearing a santa ha posed on a cobbled street with a friend

A woman wearing a santa ha posed on a cobbled street with a friend

Among those to take part were staff at Dorset County Hospital, which tweeted: ‘We’re ending 2020 with a bit of magic, hope and togetherness!’

Meanwhile, dramatic scenes on a street in Egremont in Cumbria saw neighbours line the pavements as a motorcade of festively decorated lorries drove past.

Others used the event to say thank you to frontline workers.

Charity campaigner Billy Ray Mansell dressed as Spider-Man as he got involved, dedicating the bell-ringing to staff at Mid and South Essex hospitals.

Some people dressed up and stood outside their homes to ring bells as part of an online craze

Some people dressed up and stood outside their homes to ring bells as part of an online craze

This woman in Blackwood, Wales was inspired to join in the nationwide event to show solidarity in a time when meeting up in large groups has been banned

This woman in Blackwood, Wales was inspired to join in the nationwide event to show solidarity in a time when meeting up in large groups has been banned 

And children at Glasgow Children’s Hospital also took part, with the hospital’s charity tweeting: ‘We couldn’t be prouder of our hospital heroes who have worked with infinite dedication throughout this difficult year.’

Ms Beggs-Reid’s campaign started as a Facebook group which has since attracted nearly 500,000 likes, eventually prompting the Prime Minister to get in touch.

Mrs Beggs-Reid, a 41-year-old estate agent, told the PA news agency: ‘I think it’s fantastic that the Prime Minister is getting behind an everyday mum like me and trying to help communities as much as we can.’

She added: ‘Especially with the recent news, this is more needed now than ever.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to stay at home at Christmas to help stop the spread of Covid-19 - and especially its new mutant variant

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to stay at home at Christmas to help stop the spread of Covid-19 – and especially its new mutant variant

Though, thousands of international lorry drivers are braced to spend Christmas Day cooped up in their cabs at the English Channel border as slow progress was made to return hauliers home to their loved ones.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced hundreds of soldiers would be deployed to help the repatriation operation in Kent after French coronavirus restrictions introduced following the discovery of a fast-spreading mutant Covid-19 strain in the UK caused severe disruption at the Port of Dover.

Around 700 hauliers have been cleared for departure since the borders reopened on Wednesday – and a chorus of beeping horns sounded at the Port of Dover on Christmas Eve as those at the front of the queue celebrated finally being able to leave.

Residents in Saltburn-by-the-sea were also involved in the unusual and covid-safe festive event

Residents in Saltburn-by-the-sea were also involved in the unusual and covid-safe festive event

However, around 5,000 remain unable to get home, despite some progress made in testing drivers holed up in their vehicles at nearby Manston Airport, on a closed section of the M20, and in Dover itself.

Some have already spent nearly a week stranded due to the diplomatic impasse.

Mr Shapps said: ‘We need to get the situation in Kent, caused by the French Government’s sudden imposition of Covid restrictions, resolved as soon as possible.

‘I have today sent special instructions to the Army to take control of testing and HGV management operations in the county. Our aim is to get foreign hauliers home with their families as quickly as we can.

‘I know it’s been hard for many drivers cooped up in their cabs at this precious time of year, but I assure them that we are doing our utmost to get them home.’

The Department for Transport (DfT) said all but three of the 2,367 coronavirus tests issued to hauliers have been negative – a stipulation of travel introduced by French authorities.

More than 300 soldiers will be brought in to take charge of testing and lorry marshalling to clear the backlog.

The Government said catering vans would be brought in to provide complementary hot food and drinks to stranded hauliers at Manston, with Kent Council and volunteer groups providing refreshments to those stuck on the M20.

Yet in Kent, thousands of truckers remain stuck while they await being tested for Covid-19

Yet in Kent, thousands of truckers remain stuck while they await being tested for Covid-19 

There are more than 250 toilets at Manston, with a further 32 portable toilets added to existing toilets already along the M20.

A Port of Dover spokesman said ferry services would continue running throughout the night and on Christmas Day to help ease congestion.

Traffic is moving more quickly at the Eurotunnel, where more than 1,000 vehicles left on Wednesday night, with around 2,000 more expected to depart by the end of Thursday.

But many will remain there for Christmas Day, according to Duncan Buchanan, a policy director at the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

Mr Buchanan said: ‘The most reassuring thing is that food is getting through at Manston, and I have to say a big thank you to everyone who volunteered to help drivers stick it out in cold conditions in the days leading up to Christmas.’

Just three cases of Covid-19 have been found in more than 2,300 truckers tested

Just three cases of Covid-19 have been found in more than 2,300 truckers tested

High street retailers have taken a battering this year in the wake of the Covid restrictions. Pictured is Northumberland Street today

High street retailers have taken a battering this year in the wake of the Covid restrictions. Pictured is Northumberland Street today 

Shoppers on Northumberland street in Newcastle city centre this afternoon doing their shopping on Christmas Eve

Shoppers on Northumberland street in Newcastle city centre this afternoon doing their shopping on Christmas Eve 

In Tier 4 areas overall footfall was down by 27% from last week, while in Tier 1 the number of people in town centres rose by a quarter, according to Springboard data

In Tier 4 areas overall footfall was down by 27% from last week, while in Tier 1 the number of people in town centres rose by a quarter, according to Springboard data

Footfall across all bricks and mortar retail sites in the UK was 40% lower today than on Christmas Eve last year, with central London seeing a 79% plunge following the closure of essential shops

Footfall across all bricks and mortar retail sites in the UK was 40% lower today than on Christmas Eve last year, with central London seeing a 79% plunge following the closure of essential shops

Businesses selling food are allowed to stay open for takeaways as they are counted as essential businesses. Pictured is the Market Porter, a pub inside the market

Businesses selling food are allowed to stay open for takeaways as they are counted as essential businesses. Pictured is the Market Porter, a pub inside the market 

People enjoying a takeaway drink in Borough Market, central London, where there were thousands of visitors today

People enjoying a takeaway drink in Borough Market, central London, where there were thousands of visitors today 

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