THIS was Oxford's Westgate Centre at lunchtime on Wednesday.

Aside from a handful of shoppers and one security guard wandering through, the £400m shopping centre at the heart of the city was deserted.

An eerie silence descended over the entire place, broken only by the perpetual electric sound of the escalators rolling.

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Spring sunlight blasting through the modernist architecture made the empty halls strangely beautiful.

Outside in Bonn Square, two friends sat having lunch on different benches, chatting across the divide as they ate sandwiches.

Elsewhere, the new Oxford Greggs store which opened just three weeks ago was empty and dark in a practically deserted Cornmaket Street.

Oxford Mail:

A queue of customers waiting to get into Boots, all standing several feet apart, were some of the only people in the city centre at lunchtime.

Officers in a police car parked at Carfax, meanwhile, kept watch to make sure no one was flouting the government rules on social distancing announced on Monday.

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At one point, two police cars suddenly came blaring down Cornmarket with blue flashing lights, shattering the silence and forcing the queue of Boots shoppers to jump out of the way, after which they decided to queue along the pavement instead – back in silence.

A few other shops are also open, including Specsavers opticians on Queen Street, where staff are offering a counter service at the door for urgent medical problems.

Many more have shut their doors in the middle of the week possibly for the first time since they opened.