This series of photos was taken the next day non-essential shops were allowed to open in Scotland, creating a visual record of Argyle Street – masks, queues of excited shoppers, urban life returning to the retail spaces, eerie empty for the past three months.
There were reports a day before about hundreds of Primark customers who started queuing outside the store in early hours of the morning, waiting patiently under the pouring rain. Nicola Sturgeon in her tweet asked people to shop responsibly. Although the mandatory masks in the shops rule was introduced only on 10 July, a recommendation was issued to wear facial coverings inside retail venues and on public transport voluntarily.
It felt strange entering on Argyle Street and seeing all these people teeming around. It was also a bit scary, especially after the family scare when John’s sister who lives in Helsinki, was rushed to the hospital with the coronovirus pneumonia. Hundred days afterwards, she still experiences difficulty breathing even after a couple flights of stairs.
I could understand why so many members of the public, particularly youngsters, kept their masks on as a reasonable precaution against catching COVID-19 even for just walking in the street.
I could also understand why some didn’t. After all, we were told earlier that masks were not that effective against the virus and washing hands and keeping two meter apart was enough. Furthermore, compulsory face coverings will be introduced in English only on 24 July and their non-essential shops restrictions were eased two weeks earlier than Scotland. Confusing, isn’t it?
Despite the fact that we went out after 7 pm, it was surprising to still see the queue outside Primark along Argyle Street, snaking around the corner to Millers Street. Late in the evening the next day after the re-opening!!!
I paused to take a few images (with a telephoto lens, safely) of the “new normal” urban retail experience after the lockdown easing – blue social distancing markings on the pavement, Primark fans separated into “bubbles” two meters apart in the line, and the emergence of the “queue marshals” letting people in in batches.
Still, it felt sort of life-affirming to see shoppers, people resting on the benches and flaneurs on the streets. Life is returning…