Lockdown, one year on: How the city responded during a dramatic few days
The signs had been building for weeks – ever since York recorded the first official coronavirus case at the end of January.
But when lockdown finally came, it was a shock, even in a city that has endured more than its fair share of drama in a near-2,000 year history.
In the days and hours before Boris Johnson’s historic ‘stay at home’ announcement, the city had been quickly shutting down.
Here’s a timeline of York going into lockdown.
13 March 2020
One of the first events to be cancelled was the York Irish Festival.
York City said their game would go ahead, but the club banned pre-match handshakes. But hours later it was off due to players with Covid symptoms.
York RSPCA moved to an appointments-only system.
The crematorium introduced deep cleans and more hand sanitisers.
15 March 2020
York’s own Dame Judi Dench released a hand-washing video with Giles Brandreth.
16 March 2020
York GP surgeries at the Priory Medical Group switched to phone consultations.
Sport came to a halt as both York City and York City Knights’ seasons were suspended.
The Grand Opera House cancelled all shows with immediate effect.
Spark:York closed its doors, as did the Disney Store on Parliament Street.
17 March 2020
Both York Lit Fest and Micklegate Soapbox Challenge were called off. Joseph Rowntree Theatre closed.
Shows were cancelled at York Theatre Royal too – but the cafe stayed open.
Bettys cafes, City Screen and the York Army Museum all closed. The Crescent did too – and launched a crowdfunder campaign to stay afloat.
York Minster closed its doors, with Minster police turning away tourists and worshippers.
The National Railway Museum shut, and York Museums Trust closed its museums and art gallery.
A growing list of York schools were shut to specific year groups, while Clifford’s Tower said it would be closed till May.
Visitor restrictions were introduced at York Hospital.
18 March 2020
York St John University suspended teaching and extended the Easter holiday. York Dungeon closed too.
Spark:York has reinvented itself as a collection and delivery service – Spark:Go.
It was announced that schools would close at the end of the week.
Fenwick shut its doors, followed by fellow Coppergate retailer Primark.
20 March 2020
Boris Johnson announced that cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants must close from that night.
21 March 2020
The Roots restaurant pop-up did a roaring trade. All York’s libraries were set to close, but there were plans to extend the home library service.
23 March 2020
Henshelwood’s Deli announced it was closing. Nando’s and Costa Coffee followed McDonald’s in closing completely.
The York Design Awards and the Great Yorkshire Show both announced they were cancelled.
Just as the tourism season was beginning, visitors were told to stay away: “We welcome 8.2m visitors a year in York, and we know people across the UK had plans to visit us in the coming weeks,” said Cllr Darryl Smalley.
“For our local healthcare system and the wellbeing of our residents, please put your trip to York on hold.”
Finally, the news we’d been expecting for a while. Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation to tell us all to stay home as the first coronavirus loockdown came into force.