BRADFORD'S city centre streets were left "quiet" and "eerie" yesterday - although not completely deserted - as the UK woke to its first day of lockdown.

On Monday night, Boris Johnson announced that the country would go into lockdown, in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, with normal life brought to a standstill.


The Prime Minister said that people are now only allowed to leave their homes for limited and specific purposes, such as shopping for “basic necessities” - as infrequently as possible - as well as for medical reasons, to provide care for vulnerable people and for work - but only if it is “absolutely necessary” to do so.

People are also allowed to leave the house for exercise, once a day, with parks still open - but libraries, playgrounds, places of worship and outdoor gyms are closed (although places of worship will be allowed to open for funerals).

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Gatherings of more than two people (excluding people who live together) have also been banned, with police given powers to arrest and fine those who do not adhere to the new rules.

The Prime Minister has also announced an unprecedented shutdown of businesses as part of the lockdown, with all 'non-essential' shops closing.

The only shops permitted to stay open are food shops, pharmacies, corner shops, hardware stores, petrol stations, pet shops, post offices, banks, newsagents and shops inside hospitals.

In Bradford, it was revealed yesterday morning that both The Broadway shopping centre and Kirkgate Shopping Centre were to close, although both centres said their "essential" units will stay open.

Ian Ward, General Manager at The Broadway, said, “The safety of our customers, colleagues and the communities we serve is paramount and following the Government announcement yesterday evening, the majority of The Broadway, Bradford is temporarily closed until further notice.

“This also includes the closure of the car parking facilities due to the mall access required to exit the car park on foot. Only essential retailers will remain open to serve the community in this unpredicted period.

“We will continue to closely monitor the rapidly evolving situation of COVID-19 and will ensure we are adhering to all Government guidance. We will update our website should the situation develop”

One 'key worker' - defined as someone whose job is vital to public health and safety, including health and social care workers, food chain workers and public service workers, amongst others - described Bradford city centre as looking like "a different place" yesterday.

"It felt a lot like a Sunday morning - it was quiet, but there were still people around.

"A lot of people were carrying bags, and Broadway was closed but security were letting some people in, perhaps so they could access essential shops.

"Town wasn't deserted, like you might have expected it to be. It's hard to know whether or not everyone is getting the message, although most people did appear to be food shopping. There was a sense of busyness.

"I didn't see anyone who seemed to be there just to look around, there were no 'tourists', so to speak - those who might have been there just for the experience or to observe.

"I noticed a guy riding his bike around City Park, then he jumped off and started doing press-ups - which doesn't happen on a normal day.

"It was quiet and eerie. It was an experience - not necessarily a comfortable one, but an experience nonetheless."

Councillor Nazam Azam, of the City ward, believes that the reality of COVID-19 and the impact it is having is finally starting to hit home, after he heard of the quieter streets yesterday.

"The message is clearly getting home, albeit slowly - people are starting to realise the significance and importance of keeping indoors and only going out if absolutely necessary.

"The measures put in place are unprecedented for us all, apart from maybe those who witnessed the Second World War.

"Our generation has not faced anything like this, but everyone is working very hard to fight it."