Written by Charlotte Smith
While many cities cancelled their Christmas markets this year, Nottingham decided to go ahead with a modified version. While there was no alcohol, no bars and no ice rink, it is within restrictions to host an open-air market and the council wanted to support the local businesses who would be part of the market. However, the crowds came out in much bigger numbers than anyone anticipated. The market was suspended then closed only 24 hours later.
Nottingham is still in the highest tier level of restrictions. It’s believed advice was sought from Safety Advisory Group for Events (SAGE) which didn’t advise against the event, stating it was ‘lawful’ and risks could be controlled. However, a number of agencies expressed concern, especially about the planned rides.
The report said that ‘the risk is present of course in all activity taking place in the city centre, not just the Christmas market’ and also cited tram and police’s issues in controlling a small minority of the general public.
It was believed the event would be entirely dependent on the public’s attitudes and with lockdown only having ended a few days prior many people were hitting Old Market Square anyway to get some Christmas shopping done. The combination of lockdown ending, the weekend, Christmas and the market culminated in very little social distancing.
The Nottingham City Council Leader, David Mellen, has apologised for misjudging how many people would come into the city centre.