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We compare Maidstone now with the town during the first Covid lockdown

With this week's ending of lockdown restrictions, we thought we'd take a look to see how different Maidstone is now from the start of the pandemic.

We've taken photos of various locations in Maidstone this week to compare the scene now with the same shot in March 2020.

What we found is that yes, there are now more people on the streets, many of them still wearing their masks even though since Freedom Day they no longer have to, but the town is certainly not as busy as it was in pre-Covid days.

There was barely anyone in Jubilee Square on the day of our visit, even though the weather was a perfect summer's day.

Up the road in King Street, the entrance to The Mall was busier, and certainly busier than during lockdown when only essential shops were open - which mostly meant Wilco.

Inside The Mall, people were this week still in the main observing the one-way system that remained in place with most shops continuing to provide hand-sanitiser.

It certainly felt that we had gone some way towards returning to normal though it was far from a shopping frenzy!

Over at The Royal Star Arcade, the big difference was that it was open. In the first lockdown it had shut entirely.

No customers entered the arcade however,while we were lining up this shot.

It seems that most people are not yet returning to the office, on a full time basis at least.

A visit to Maidstone West Station found very few commuters and indeed it seemed little busier than during lockdown all that time ago.

There were certainly more people enjoying the sunshine in Week Street than 16 months ago when none of us knew quite what to expect, and Fremlin Walk seemed to be positively buzzing in comparison. While the main visible difference to be seen at the entrance to Gabriel's Hill was that the council's attractive floral hanging baskets had unfortunately obscured the No Entry sign.

We concluded our tour with a trip to Mote Park. During the lockdown, the children's play area had been closed and locked. Now it is open again, but despite it being a beautiful summer's day there were hardly any children playing there.

Perhaps most parents thought it was too hot - if not for their toddlers, at least for them.

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