The West London town centre where it seems lockdown rules don’t matter


The second lockdown has been in full swing across London for over two weeks, however, a trip into Harrow town centre might have many thinking otherwise.

Unlike the first lockdown, most cafés and restaurants are able to stay open provided they only do takeaway service, businesses doing click and collect services are also allowed to remain open and students are still going into school.

For everything else, however, lockdown means lockdown – all non-essential businesses are closed and people should only be leaving their homes to travel to work, for essential shopping and exercise.

But when we ventured into Harrow town centre, it seemed the lockdown instructions aren’t really catching on.

‘You wouldn’t believe there’s a national lockdown’

People were socialising on park benches
People were socialising on park benches

There’s no doubt Harrow town centre is a popular shopping area in West London. Not only does it have a Primark, it actually has two shopping centres so you’d expect it to be reasonably busy in normal circumstances.

I often pass through the town centre if I need to get the train to a job so I see glimpses of people as I rush to the station, but I thought I’d have a gander through the shopping centre to see what the Harrow mood is in the new lockdown.

In the first lockdown, almost every London street appeared as if it should be complete with a tumbleweed but now Harrow town centre, even with Primark closed, pretty much looks like normal Saturday shopping.

Do people appear to be following the lockdown rules where you are? Join the discussion and leave a comment.

There were plenty of people walking around without masks, socialising on benches; it’s like travelling back in time and getting a snap shot of pre-coronavirus days.

No one was in sportswear, so it wasn’t an all Harrow-wide jog everyone was off to. Either everyone in the area was doing their essential shopping at the same time or the lockdown rules don’t really matter too much to people.

I’d argue the latter.

‘Some shops are saying they’re essential – it’s questionable’

It seems lockdown apathy has fallen on Harrow
It seems lockdown apathy has fallen on Harrow

It seems a few of the shops are also playing fast and loose with the lockdown rules. As previously mentioned, all non-essential shops should be closed but it seems some shops, considerably different to your regular Tesco or Homebase, have questionably been categorised themselves “essential”.

I’m not the essential shop police but there were some shops selling novelty and home decorating items that do not seem all the way necessary or essential. Some were selling Christmas decorations which may make the case for an essential shop; everyone needs wrapping paper – but it’s up for debate.

With so many “essential” stores and takeaway coffees, I was shocked to see the town centre was just as packed as it usually is.

People are still casually walking through the shopping centre
People are still casually walking through the shopping centre

I was hoping the shopping centres would be different with the closure of popular shops like Primark and VUE cinema, but nope, shoppers were casually strolling through going about their business.

And those floor markings directing one way systems and instructing two metre social distancing, have completely gone out the window, most people were paying absolutely no attention to them.

I put no blame on the Londoners. Lockdown apathy is a real thing and with the myriad maze of rules people have been told in the past, it’s understandably difficult to keep up.

But in a push to get the R number below one and gradually move out of lockdown come December 2, a bit more caution in Harrow town centre could go a long way.





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Author: Shirley

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