Welsh shoppers flock to the High Street while millions in England are stuck in lockdown 


Welsh shoppers flocked to the High Street today as they enjoyed their freedom after the country’s firebreak lockdown ended earlier this month.  

Just across the border, millions of people in England are still stuck in their homes as the country remains locked down and the Scottish face draconian measures to slow the spread of the virus. 

Hundreds of people took to the shops in the Welsh capital Cardiff, packing the streets as they stocked up on Christmas presents. 

WALES: Hundreds of Welsh shoppers enjoyed their freedom taking advantage of the reopening of shops in Cardiff

LONDON: The picture was extremely different in London, with the usually bustling Oxford Street close to empty due to shop closures

LONDON: The picture was extremely different in London, with the usually bustling Oxford Street close to empty due to shop closures

GLASGOW: As of 6pm last night, two million Scots were plunged into a draconian Level Four lockdown covering 11 different council areas - including Glasgow (pictured today), East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire

GLASGOW: As of 6pm last night, two million Scots were plunged into a draconian Level Four lockdown covering 11 different council areas – including Glasgow (pictured today), East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire

STIRLING: Under the strict rules, all non-essential shops were forced to close for three weeks alongside restaurants, cafes and bars leaving highstreets all but deserted (pictured today) and store windows shuttered

STIRLING: Under the strict rules, all non-essential shops were forced to close for three weeks alongside restaurants, cafes and bars leaving highstreets all but deserted (pictured today) and store windows shuttered

CARDIFF: Locals looking to get a head-start on their Christmas shopping were seen carrying bags along the high street

CARDIFF: Locals looking to get a head-start on their Christmas shopping were seen carrying bags along the high street

People made use of their new freedom, hitting the shops to snap up deals and get Christmas presents

People made use of their new freedom, hitting the shops to snap up deals and get Christmas presents

The streets of the Welsh capital were flooded with people on the hunt for a bargain

The streets of the Welsh capital were flooded with people on the hunt for a bargain

But the picture was very different in London today, with very few people walking along the usually bustling Oxford Street after shops were forced to close as a result of the second lockdown.

The same was seen in Glasgow city centre, which was close to deserted on the first day of even stricter tier four lockdown measures.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week that 11 council areas, which include the city of Glasgow, would be subject to Level Four restrictions – affecting approximately 2.3million people.

People living in Level Four areas are banned from meeting with other households indoors while all non-essential shops must close.

People were able to head to the shops again this weekend after the Welsh firebreak lockdown ended earlier this month

People were able to head to the shops again this weekend after the Welsh firebreak lockdown ended earlier this month

While the weather was a little blustery, that did not stop residents from heading to the High Street

While the weather was a little blustery, that did not stop residents from heading to the High Street

Compared to the Welsh capital, London's Oxford Street appeared eerily quiet as very few people walked the streets

Compared to the Welsh capital, London’s Oxford Street appeared eerily quiet as very few people walked the streets

While typically very busy at this time of year and filled with Christmas shoppers, the pavements were empty

While typically very busy at this time of year and filled with Christmas shoppers, the pavements were empty

In an announcement to the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon told people in those areas that they ‘should not be going out and about’ while the measures are place for the three weeks – until December 11. 

Meanwhile, in Wales, scores of people queued up for a mass coronavirus testing pilot scheme in Merthyr Tydfil today, with rapid tests offered to residents even if they don’t have symptoms. 

The latest scheme comes a week after the town registered the highest rate of new cases in the UK.

Merthyr Tydfil has since seen the biggest drop in cases in Wales from around 770 cases per 100,000 to now below 260 as the effect of the country’s 17-day firebreak begins to work.

As well as a lack of people on the street, there was very little traffic in the usually busy road too

As well as a lack of people on the street, there was very little traffic in the usually busy road too

Usually teeming with people, the iconic junction in Oxford Street was close to empty

Usually teeming with people, the iconic junction in Oxford Street was close to empty

The picture was similar in Glasgow, with very few people out and about this Saturday

The picture was similar in Glasgow, with very few people out and about this Saturday

The city centre was close to deserted as several parts of Scotland were plunged into draconian lockdown measures

The city centre was close to deserted as several parts of Scotland were plunged into draconian lockdown measures

The test scheme was launched on Saturday morning at the town’s Rhydycar Leisure Centre, with more sites due to open through Merthyr Tydfil County Borough throughout November.

People huddled under umbrellas to avoid the rain as they lined along the leisure centre, with the first in line waiting more than an hour-and-a-half to be let inside at around 10.30am.

The first member of the public to take a test was 82-year-old Shirley Jones, whose partner of 20 years, Desmond Rogers, 83, had died at the town’s Prince Charles Hospital just 24 hours previously while waiting for cancer treatment which had been delayed due to the pandemic.

Today was the first day of the new tier four system introduced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, resulting in the quiet streets of Glasgow

Today was the first day of the new tier four system introduced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, resulting in the quiet streets of Glasgow

People queued outside the Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre today to be involved in the mass rapid testing scheme

People queued outside the Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre today to be involved in the mass rapid testing scheme

As part of the scheme, the rapid tests offered to residents even if they don't have symptoms

As part of the scheme, the rapid tests offered to residents even if they don’t have symptoms

She said: ‘He’d been there for a while, he had bowel cancer. It went to his stomach and his throat. He was at Prince Charles Hospital and that’s where he died.

‘I couldn’t say goodbye to him. I couldn’t tell him that I love him or that the lord will be with him. I couldn’t give him comfort.

‘I’ve got to do this because I think it’s right that we should all come up here and support the Government and get this test. It’s very important that we do it.

The latest testing scheme comes a week after the town registered the highest rate of new cases in the UK

The latest testing scheme comes a week after the town registered the highest rate of new cases in the UK

The new tetsing scheme was launched this morning at the town's Rhydycar Leisure Centre

The new tetsing scheme was launched this morning at the town’s Rhydycar Leisure Centre

There are plans for more sites to open through Merthyr Tydfil County Borough throughout November

There are plans for more sites to open through Merthyr Tydfil County Borough throughout November

People huddled under umbrellas to avoid the rain as they lined along the leisure centre waiting for their test

People huddled under umbrellas to avoid the rain as they lined along the leisure centre waiting for their test 

‘I could’ve stayed in this morning and not come because I was grieving, but I knew I had to do the right thing in coming up here for myself for our community, and I pray to god that everybody comes up and has a test like I have.

‘I think it’s our duty to come up and protect the community. If you don’t do it then we’re never going to get rid of this coronavirus.’

The deputy leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Lisa Mytton, said Ms Jones had set an example for the whole public.

She said: ‘Doesn’t that just say it all. The courage that woman has shown is incredible.

The first in line were waiting more than an hour-and-a-half to be let inside at around 10.30am

The first in line were waiting more than an hour-and-a-half to be let inside at around 10.30am

The first member of the public to take a test was 82-year-old Shirley Jones, whose partner of 20 years, Desmond Rogers, 83, had died at the town's Prince Charles Hospital just 24 hours previously while waiting for cancer treatment which had been delayed due to the pandemic

The first member of the public to take a test was 82-year-old Shirley Jones, whose partner of 20 years, Desmond Rogers, 83, had died at the town’s Prince Charles Hospital just 24 hours previously while waiting for cancer treatment which had been delayed due to the pandemic

Eyes streamed and people pulled some unusual expressions as they underwent the testing

Eyes streamed and people pulled some unusual expressions as they underwent the testing

‘It’s quite emotional, to know she’s come out here because of what’s impacted her within the 24 hours is incredibly brave thing for her to do.’

The deputy leader said she believed the launch of the testing pilot was the best way to try and reduce the area’s high levels of transmissions.

She said: ‘I just wonder what other way there would be to do it apart from this way.

‘I really am hopeful that it will get everybody out there so we can find and see those people who are asymptomatic walking around unknowingly with coronavirus so they can then self-isolate so we can reduce our transmission rate.

The residents of Merthyr Tydfil did nasal and mouth swab tests as part of the rapid testing scheme

The residents of Merthyr Tydfil did nasal and mouth swab tests as part of the rapid testing scheme

The deputy leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Lisa Mytton, said Ms Jones had set an example for the whole public

The deputy leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Lisa Mytton, said Ms Jones had set an example for the whole public

Lisa Mytton said she believed the launch of the testing pilot was the best way to try and reduce the area's high levels of transmissions. Pictured: Testing staff complete lateral flow testing

Lisa Mytton said she believed the launch of the testing pilot was the best way to try and reduce the area’s high levels of transmissions. Pictured: Testing staff complete lateral flow testing

Ms Mytton also praised the work of staff to get the site up and running with just a week's notice

Ms Mytton also praised the work of staff to get the site up and running with just a week’s notice

‘This will help in the end people being able to see relatives, to get back to some sort of normality.’

She added: ‘Obviously we didn’t want as many people having coronavirus in Merthyr Tydfil as the numbers have shown, that’s saddened us. But I’m pleased we’ve been chosen to undertake this pilot because if it helps reduce the transmission rate in Merthyr Tydfil then that’s a good thing, definitely.’

Ms Mytton also praised the work of staff to get the site up and running with just a week’s notice.

Last minute plans included using voting booths intended for use at the May 2021 Welsh Parliament instead being used to self-administer test swabs, after dedicated booths supposed to be sent by the UK Government failed to show.

Last minute plans included using voting booths intended for use at the May 2021 Welsh Parliament instead being used to self-administer test swabs. Pictured: A lateral flow immunoassay diagnostic device, which shows the presence of SARS-CoV-2

Last minute plans included using voting booths intended for use at the May 2021 Welsh Parliament instead being used to self-administer test swabs. Pictured: A lateral flow immunoassay diagnostic device, which shows the presence of SARS-CoV-2

Dedicated booths which were supposed to be sent by the UK Government failed to show so they had to improvise

Dedicated booths which were supposed to be sent by the UK Government failed to show so they had to improvise

Lateral flow tests give results within 20 to 30 minutes, with people who test positive then given a traditional swab test and asked to return home so they can self-isolate immediately

Lateral flow tests give results within 20 to 30 minutes, with people who test positive then given a traditional swab test and asked to return home so they can self-isolate immediately

The pilot will be supported by 165 military personnel, with Brigadier Andrew Dawes, Commander Joint Military Command Wales, one of the first people to get a test on Saturday

The pilot will be supported by 165 military personnel, with Brigadier Andrew Dawes, Commander Joint Military Command Wales, one of the first people to get a test on Saturday

She said: ‘To get it up and running, get the staff and volunteers, it’s been an incredible effort and I’m so proud everyone’s pulled together.’

Lateral flow tests give results within 20 to 30 minutes, with people who test positive then given a traditional swab test and asked to return home so they can self-isolate immediately.

The pilot will be supported by 165 military personnel, with Brigadier Andrew Dawes, Commander Joint Military Command Wales, one of the first people to get a test on Saturday.

Last week, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the pilot, which follows one already in place in Liverpool, would provide ‘vital understanding’ on how mass testing can be rolled out across the UK.

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