For first time since January, Covid-19 seems to be everywhere in London

Shows, restaurants and shops slacken off in game of snakes and ladders

London’s Covent Garden: Many people are staying at home and avoiding crowded places over the next few days. Photograph:  James Manning/PA

London’s Covent Garden: Many people are staying at home and avoiding crowded places over the next few days. Photograph: James Manning/PA

A handful of customers were browsing in Hatchards and a few were coming out of Fortnum and Masons with their Eau de Nil carrier bags, but all of the smaller shops along that stretch of Piccadilly were empty. Around the corner on St James’s, a short, stout gentleman was trying on a top hat in Lock’s but Lobb’s the bootmaker was deserted and Berry Bros wine merchants were unusually quiet for this time of year.

West End musicals that have been booked out into February now have seats available every night following a rush of cancellations but some of the biggest shows, including Hamilton, The Lion King and The Life of Pi have cancelled performances. London is subject to the mildest of coronavirus restrictions with neither masks nor vaccine passports needed to go into a pub or restaurant but the capital is shutting down a week before Christmas.

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