BARRHEAD has taken on the appearance of a ghost town as most residents heed advice to stay indoors in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Tough new measures have been announced by the government to keep people off the streets, with East Renfrewshire joining the rest of the UK in lockdown.

And even before the new rules were confirmed, many Barrhead businesses had already shut up shop or were preparing to close.

Other than in the supermarket aisles or outside pharmacies, the streets of Barrhead were eerily quiet on Monday, with only a few people scurrying about on an important errand.

Many shops, hair salons and other premises in the town had their shutters down and put up signs stating their reasons for not opening.

Barrhead News: People try to stay apart at Frasers’People try to stay apart at Frasers’

The Barrhead News caught up with staff at some of the businesses who were facing up to the prospect of their last day of trading until the worst of the coronavirus crisis is over.

Scott’s Stores, which has become something of a Barrhead institution by selling hardware goods to shoppers at its Main Street base over the years, was still enjoying brisk business on Monday – but boss John Park admitted to feeling uneasy about doing a roaring trade at a time when supplies of food and medicine are more important.

“I think we’ll be closing down any day now and I’m glad,” he  said. “We’re busier than we should be because of what’s been happening.

“Normally at this time of year if we were this busy, I’d say ‘oh, this is great’ but we’re busy for the wrong reasons and it’s the same as the supermarkets – we’re selling out of stuff too quick.

“I don’t want people to think I’m lapping this up, though. I really do wish things were as normal.

“The most important thing is people’s safety.”

Concerns have also been raised over the pressure being placed on Barrhead’s chemists as people try to make sure they have enough medicines to see them through the coronavirus crisis.

There have been reports of queues of up to 50 people standing outside Boots the Chemist and Frasers’ Pharmacy, which are just yards from each other in the town’s Main Street.

One customer, who asked to be named only as James, told the Barrhead News: “I had to wait nearly two hours in a queue outside Frasers’. I don’t know what’s going on.

“There must have been some change in the system because it has never been like this before. Usually, you are just in and out.

“I can’t understand it. It’s not as if people can stockpile prescriptions.”

James, 68, said he considered himself to be a “vulnerable person” during the current health crisis, as he has high blood pressure and previously suffered a minor stroke.

Speaking to the Barrhead News by mobile phone, his wife added that she has concerns over people failing to adhere to strict ‘social distancing’ guidelines.

“It’s horrendous,” she said. “Nicola Sturgeon was on the TV, urging people not to meet up, but it’s still happening. It’s a poor show.”

When the Barrhead News visited Main Street on Monday, those who were out and about appeared to be taking the plea for social distancing seriously but there were still many people waiting outside both pharmacies.

Katrine Zielinski had been waiting in line for 20 minutes to get into Boots.

Barrhead News: Katrine Zielinski Katrine Zielinski

“People seem to be doing the social spacing,” said Katrine, who is retired. “I’m buying medicine for my 90-year-old mother but I can’t wait to get home.”

Graham Day, meanwhile, was collecting asthma inhalers for his wife and daughter, who were isolating at home.

Barrhead News: Graham Day Graham Day

“They’re not wanting to go out but I still need to go to work,” said 44-year-old Graham, who is a police officer.

“I’ve not found things too bad but we’ve weeks and months to go and it might get a little different.”

Brian McDowell, 31, was among those who took to wearing a face-mask in a bid to protect himself from Covid-19.

Barrhead News: Brian McDowell has been wearing a face maskBrian McDowell has been wearing a face mask

He said: “I wouldn’t bother with it usually but my wee boy has lung disease, so it’s to protect him.”