"Alright love, mask on please". A security guard does his bit in an all-but deserted Hull city centre with Lockdown 3 in full swing.

Who would've envisaged this would be the scene in our high streets 12 months ago?

Usually teeming with life, big national retailers and local independents remain lockup up - bar the ones barricaded like Fort Knox - as workers gingerly hand over click and collect parcels from behind metal railings and screens.

Similarly, many of those deemed essential continue to plod on.

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Masks being worn outside is becoming the norm
Masks being worn outside is becoming the norm

In the last year, these most unusual sights are strangely ones with which we have become accustomed.

The biggest change of all to how we shop since the pandemic began is undoubtedly the mask. From plain black or surgical blue to a plethora of patterns, they add a bit of extra colour to our struggling high street at a time when they are most necessary.

During the first lockdown, as people struggled to come to terms with the new addition to their pocket or handbag when venturing out, the mask was almost exclusively seen indoors – often after a gentle nudge from a security guard.

Understandably, the adjustment took time but repeated appeals and the reworking of habits of a lifetime finally made their mark – it is our 'new normal' after all.

We've created a Facebook group for people who live, work and play in Hull city centre. It will have all the latest on new shops that are opening, events taking place and developments around the town.

All eyes are on Hull as we continue as City of Culture to see how we take the next steps forward and this is the perfect place to explore that.

Don't be shy - feel free to like, comment and share your own ideas and pictures, and let us know if anything pops up that you think is worth us reporting.

You can join the group here.

But taking on the city centre on a chilly – and windy – January lunchtime reveals that Hull has taken the mask to heart like perhaps many didn’t expect.

Far from being reserved for the aisles of the supermarkets, they now appear to be just another extension of our being.

Right across Hull, whether indoor or out, shoppers are now happy to trundle around with their faces partly covered.

Mask-wearing has become more prevalent in the outside spaces in Hull city centre
Mask-wearing has become more prevalent in the outside spaces in Hull city centre

Speaking to Radio 4 earlier this month, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty described how the new Covid-19 variants made every social interaction more dangerous, regardless of whether it takes place within a building or out amongst the fresh breeze. Meanwhile, other experts say crowded shopping streets and busy markets are the ideal places to use that extra layer of protection.

Despite, the almost barren landscape in Hull during the third lockdown, Hullensians are clearly committed to masking-up even while winding their way through the city centre, ditching the ‘rip off and pocket’ approach many had previously.

But, among the vast swathes of emptiness - which should of course be encouraged - pockets of activity remain.

Plenty of people could be seen hunting for bargains in the new B&M in the Prospect Centre, while the traders in Trinity Market appeared to have a steady influx of customers negotiating its one-way system.

However, the bigger shopping centres appear to be feeling the pinch. Pictures taken inside Princes Quay showed it lying empty, while just a few passed through St Stephen's usually-heaving atrium.

In the lockdown of November, many seemed committed to still venturing out but the third iteration seems to have struck a chord in the city.

Princes Quay was silent
Princes Quay was silent on Thursday lunchtime

While record death figures were announced on Thursday, Hull's seven-day infection rate has stabilised around the 225 mark.

As they have done from the beginning, the people of the city and taking every measure possible to keep Covid-19 at bay with empty streets and many masks out on the streets - but we can't wait to see a return to normality soon.