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100 days of lockdown: What has happened in Peterborough?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a country-wide lockdown on March 23, as non-essential shops, restaurants and pubs closed their doors.
Cathedral Square has looked very different over the last three months (photo: Toby Wood)

Lockdown was officially announced in the UK on March 23, and although restrictions have started to lift, we still aren't quite back to a 'normal' way of living. 

Prior to the announcement that people must only leave their homes once a week for a food shop and once a day for exercise, pubs, clubs and restaurants were told they had to close the weekend before Boris Johnson confirmed the lockdown. 

At this point, we had seen numerous shop closures, people stockpiled toilet roll, pasta and hand wash, schools had either taken it upon themselves to close or only close for select year groups and fitness instructors had moved to online classes. 

But what happened when lockdown was officially announced? It's been 100 days – so a lot has gone on, but here are some memorable moments across Peterborough over the past three months. 

McDonald's announces they will be closing

The closure of McDonald's on March 23 devastated many across the city, and although the queues were not quite as bad as they were once they had reopened, they still backed up onto roundabouts. However, swirling around car parks and the police being forced to close roads didn't happen... Until they reopened. 

Queues grow at B&Q

On March 23, B&Q quickly became one of the most popular stores across Peterborough as staff who had been furloughed decided to revamp their homes. Whether you were there for DIY, gardening tools or a hot tub, it seems everyone had the same thought process.

Peterborough Cathedral closes its doors

In an iconic day for Peterborough, the 902-year-old building shuts to the city from March 24

Shops increase their prices

On March 29, customers who were going to their local shops instead of the big superstores noticed that prices had risen substantially during lockdown. 

Mohammed Sayeed and his family run a takeaway on Lincoln Road. He previously told Peterborough Matters: "I did notice the prices have gone up for meat and chicken, otherwise I wouldn’t have paid almost £30 for two kgs of meat! When I questioned one of the sellers, he said, it’s not them but their suppliers who are putting the prices up. 

"Not just that, I even saw some of the small, local shops selling hand sanitizers for £4. People are being exploited."

Takeaways adapted to a new way of serving

On March 29, locals across the city could no longer go to a restaurant, and many takeaways had closed down. However, some were still battling through and adapting to a new way of serving customers in a socially distanced setting. 

Peterborough nan pens coronavirus rap

On March 31, Paulette Mowles, 83, of Paston, penned a rap about coronavirus, writing: "You miserable germ you just take a hike and learn when you're beaten – on yer bike!" She definitely lifted the mood as locals praised her for her spirit. 

Peterborough City Council scraps car parking fees

On April 2, car parking charges were dropped during lockdown to allow key workers to continue doing their bit without worrying about charges. It was later extended to allow shoppers to park for free for a limited time. 

Doctors couldn't believe man's recovery from coronavirus

On April 7, David Francis recovered from coronavirus despite having pre-existing health conditions, even doctors were shocked at his recovery. His wife Sweet Francis spoke to Peterborough Matters to praise those who looked after him. 


Sweet FrancisThe pair have been married for 22 years (photo: Sweet Francis)

Plans to turn Solstice into student accommodation were revealed

Although nothing has been confirmed, plans were revealed and later sent in for Peterborough City Council deliberation regarding the demolition of Solstice to act as student accommodation for the new university. 

Peterborough's testing centre opened

On April 24, Peterborough's first testing centre opened for key workers as a drive-thru service was launched.

Thorpe Hall closes due to coronavirus case

On April 30, Thorpe Hall was forced to close to new admissions due to an outbreak of coronavirus. Three weeks later, they confirmed they could reopen once again for new admissions. 

Costa reopens on Uber Eats

Costa returned to Uber Eats on May 1 after closing in March. They tested reopening in multiple locations on Uber Eats before confirming they would be back for drive-thru too. 

KFC reopened, but had to shut online orders immediately

KFC reopened on May 6 to the public, but had to close online orders mere seconds after they started accepting them due to the queues. It eventually got so out of hand that roads were closed and they had to use Vivacity Premier Fitness car park to control it. 

A Peterborough City Council cabinet member told of his battle with Covid19

But Marco Cereste was on the way to recovery when we spoke to him on May 7

Peterborough Tip reopens

The Household Recyling Centre reopened on May 11 after being closed for six weeks, and it was welcomed with a large queue, which has continued in the weeks since. 

McDonalds reopened six restaurants in Peterborough – and Twitter LOVED it! 

McDonald's reopened six restaurants in Peterborough on May 20, while numerous places across the UK were left without a local store open. Peterborough was trending in the top 10 in the UK, alongside six McDonald's. 

Peterborough City Hospital goes on lockdown

Peterborough City Hospital decided to go into lockdown on May 21 after weapons were used in Dogsthorpe

IKEA confirms Peterborough click & collect

After years of having a warehouse on our doorstep, customers were overjoyed to find out on June 5 that Peterborough's warehouse would also act as a click & collect system. You may not be able to go into the store, but at least you can pick up from it.

Next opened one of their three stores

Next reopened their Brotherhood store, which has the largest homeware department in their Peterborough locations, before other non-essential retail stores opened, on June 9. Their other stores have since followed suit, but Brotherhood was the first. 

Queensgate reopens – and Primark queues are huge!

Queensgate reopened on June 15 in line with government guidelines, and while most stores were looking at their regular custom, with a few limitations in place, Primark soared. The bargain store was forced to let people in early to limit the queues. 

primarkreopening4Those at the end of the queue face a long wait to get their Primark fix (Photo: Carly Beech)

Vivacity announce they will be handing services back to the council

Vivacity confirmed that after a difficult deliberation period they would be handing their services back to the council. Sites affected include the city's 10 libraries, the Key Theatre, Peterborough museum, the Lido, Flag Fen, the Regional Pool, and the health and leisure facilities at Bretton, Dogsthorpe, Hampton, Netherton, Orton and Werrington.

Plus much, much more to come! 

We have told you what restaurants, pubs and cafes will be opening as of July 4 too, after over 100 days out of work. 

Although we're unlikely to be back to 'normal' for a long time, we are starting to see changes as some of our favourite leisure activities return to the city.