Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Coronavirus: The capital starts to grind to a halt

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Media captionScotland's capital starts to grind to a halt

The centre of Edinburgh would normally be bustling with tourists, office workers and shoppers. But as more people follow social distancing advice in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus, the capital has begun grinding to a halt.

Edinburgh's main thoroughfare has become a lot quieter with few people walking along Princes Street and many neighbouring streets being deserted.

Many shops and food outlets have closed with others restricting access.

Buses are running empty, including the city's sightseeing buses for tourists.

And the capital's iconic park, Princes Street Gardens, is bare apart from some council gardeners cutting the grass and tending the flower beds.

Image caption Most department stores are now closed on Edinburgh's Princes Street

Shops

Most big department stores have closed or are closing in Edinburgh's city centre.

Those shops that are not shut have signs in their windows saying "contactless card payments only", "no money" and "only one customer at a time".

Many cafes and big coffee chains are closed. Only a couple of them are serving takeaway coffees.

Most restaurants have signs in their windows saying they have been "forced to close" while a few are still trying to make ends meet by running food deliveries only.

Cafe Nero on Lothian Road even has a sign offering free drinks to NHS staff.

Workers could be seen inside the closed Pret a Manger on Lothian Road cleaning down all the fridges.

Image caption Cafe Nero on Lothian Road has a sign saying any free hot drink for all NHS staff

Tourism

Several of the people seen in the city centre were tourists.

Alyse Sugahara, 32, and her husband, Shota Sugahara, 34, from Osaka in Tokyo said their flight to Japan had been postponed.

Mrs Sugahara, a translator, told BBC Scotland: "We were due to fly home today (Monday) but our flight has been cancelled and we were thrown out of our Airbnb because they needed it for the next people.

"We are sitting here in the Grassmarket because we have nowhere else to go. We have managed to get another Airbnb but we can't get in until later.

"We are getting really worried now that we are running out of money. We are hoping there is now a flight we can catch on Wednesday but everything is changing at the last minute now. That it is a big concern for us.

"We have had all our trips and flights during our stay cancelled and we have not had refunds so it's been hard."

Image caption Alyse Sugahara and her husband, Shota Sugahara, have had their flight home to Japan postponed

Health

Many dentists have now closed and doctors' surgeries are only taking phone appointments.

People have been queuing outside the dental hospital in Chalmers Street in Edinburgh.

Magdalena Kujawska, 25, from Edinburgh, told BBC Scotland that toothache had caused her cheek to swell.

She said: "I'm in so much pain that I cant wait for a few months until the dentists reopen.

"They won't let us into the building and instead are saying we have to phone the number that's on a sign in the window but nobody is answering.

"I don't know what to do. I'm worried. I was also sacked from my job as a carer because of coronavirus so this is a very difficult time."

Image caption People have been queuing outside the dental hospital in Chalmers Street in Edinburgh

Parks

Princes Street Gardens is now deserted with only a few gardeners tending to the flower beds and cutting the grass.

The Meadows is also empty apart from lone joggers circling the perimeter and a few cyclists.

Image caption The Meadows is also empty apart from lone joggers circling the perimeter along with a few cyclists

Streets

There are still quite a lot of buses running along Princes Street but there is a marked difference in the numbers of pedestrians.

There are very few people now walking along the capital's main thoroughfare.

The Royal Mile is very quiet now, not eerie yet, but almost as empty as it is on Christmas Day.

Image caption The Royal Mile is very quiet now, not eerie yet, but almost as empty as it is on Christmas Day