THE sudden announcement that Bolton ­— with the rest of Greater Manchester ­— will be going into a second lockdown has left residents and businesses reeling.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock broke the news after 9pm yesterday, following a spike in coronavirus cases in the North of England. It said the spread was caused by households meeting and not abiding to social distancing­— and it was enforceable by law.

Mr Hancock said: "We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe."

The way the Government made the announcement has been fiercely criticised.

Yasmin Qureshi MP for Bolton South East said: “No Government should make a major announcement on Twitter ­— which impacts everyone, people and businesses.

“There is no issue with the lockdown, it is the way the announcement was made, there was no indication and no warning.”

Cllr Nick Peel, leader of Bolton’s Labour Party said: “The Government is guilty of giving out mixed and contradictory messages over the last month, leading many people to wrongly believe that lock down restrictions were over especially in terms of family groupings mixing with other families in social settings.

“Social distancing rules were gradually being seen as no longer relevant, and now inevitably, it has led to this – a second lockdown.

“Government instructions need to be clear not vague, and their message needs to be loud and clear - this virus kills people and is not going to go away anytime soon.”

The hospitality industry in Bolton it is open as usual, with safety measures in place for staff and customers.

Husky Faldu, from The Courthouse, said: “The timing of the announcement was bad and it was vague.

“We have lots of bookings this weekend but we are lucky because we have large outdoor seating and those who were coming with other households can be socially distanced on another nearby table.

“We have all the safety measures in place and are open for business.”

Crofters in Bradshaw put up an announcement saying bookings were going ahead, with extra measures in place following the announcement.

It urged people who would not be coming to cancel so the table can be taken by someone else.

The restaurant stated: "We urge all customers to stay in their own bubble and don’t mix with other customers. All our staff are wearing masks and everything is ordered via our app.

"If you are considering cancelling your reservation, please give us a call and we can talk you through the measures we have in place.

"We really can’t afford any no shows so if you are likely to not be dining or drinking with us this weekend please let us know as soon as possible."

Cllr Sean Hornby, who is the landlord of The Queens in Bradley Fold, said: “All customers who come in have to follow the social distancing measures we have in place.

“The infection rate in Bolton has come down but we have this complete blanket ban. No one is saying there should not be lockdown but our rates, as I understand it, have come down a lot from where they were."

One resident said: "The announcement was confusing, I did not know if I could see my mother, who depends on me. It is breaking the rules to arrange to meet with another household, but not if you bump into them into the pub.

"People were left confused by the sudden announcement."

To find out what is and is allowed under new restrictions click here