How the North East looked on the first day of national coronavirus lockdown

The North East resembled a ghost town as streets were left deserted on the first day of the new national lockdown.

The eerie scenes are the polar opposite of those seen on Wednesday night as huge crowds of revellers took advantage of their final night of freedom before pubs and bars closed their doors.

Thousands of people have flocked to town and city centres for some last-minute shopping over the past few days ahead of new Covid-19 restrictions kicking in.

But now the shutters are down, closed signs are up in windows and the lights are off in the majority of shops across the region.

Boris Johnson has urged members of the public to stay at home for the next four weeks in a bid to reverse the spread of Covid-19.

People have been warned there are only a limited number of reasons to leave home such as for exercise, shopping for essential goods and attending medical appointments.

And come Thursday morning it appeared residents in the North East were adhering to the Government’s new measures.

The City of Durham on the first day of the second national lockdown.

The last time the region’s cities were so quiet was during the initial weeks of the first lockdown in spring this year.

Durham’s historic narrow streets, usually bustling with shoppers, students and workers, were bare.

Not a soul could be seen outside Durham Cathedral or at Prince Bishops Shopping Centre in very unfamiliar scenes.

The Bigg Market was deserted in Newcastle
(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

Police were patrolling the streets in Newcastle city centre to ensure residents were following lockdown restrictions.

But strict rules preventing people from meeting more than one other person during the second shutdown meant just a handful of people were spotted dotted around Northumberland Street, the Bigg Market and Neville Street as more people return to working from home.

The City of Sunderland on the first day of the second national lockdown.
(Image: Craig Connor/ChronicleLive)

Footfall around the Bridges shopping centre, in Sunderland, was sparse on the opening day of the second lockdown – which is set to continue until December 2.

The Wearmouth Bridge was also completely empty with the absence of many city centre workers in scenes reminiscent of those in March.

Meanwhile towns across Northumberland, including Hexham, Prudhoe and Morpeth, were visually much quieter than usual.

Northumberland in the second Lockdown. Prudhoe Front Street on the first day of the second Lockdown.

One business which closed in the first lockdown is the Cheese Room in the Alnwick Deli just off the Market Place.

“My customers have asked me to stay open. I closed last time and I had to throw out a lot of cheese. The cheese I didn’t throw out I gave to a foodbank and this time I’m staying open,” said owner Marie McArdle.

“I’ve had about three customers this morning, a lot quieter than yesterday.

“On Wednesday, people were buying as well because they knew it was coming, it was a lot busier than today.”

People enjoying a morning walk on Whitley Bay beach on the first day of lockdown
(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

In general, people must not meet people socially. However, you can exercise or meet in a public, outdoors space with people you live with, your support bubble, or with one other person.

And it seemed residents were happy to have their daily exercise on the North East coast with walkers spotted on the seafront at Tynemouth and Whitley Bay.

Officials say they had no choice but to act after frightening data showed the NHS would be overwhelmed by December.

SECOND LOCKDOWN EXPLAINED

Those who are found breaking the new lockdown rules will face heavy fines which can grow as high as £6,400 for repeat breaches.

Boris Johnson says he wants to return to the three-tier system, or something close to it, following the national lockdown.

Chronicle Live – Sunderland