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Since it reopened two weeks ago, business in Oldham's Salt Cellar community hub and cafe has not been brisk.

Many of its usual elderly customers are shielding, and now the restrictions that came into effect at midnight mean it cannot be used as a meeting place either.

Thanks to a spike in coronavirus infections, Oldham is facing tighter restrictions which mean that people cannot socialise with anyone outside their own households.

Manager Kerry Roach said the cafe would usually be packed, but now "if it wasn't for the fact that most of the staff are volunteers, we'd be struggling to stay open".

Image: The Salt Cellar cafe is facing tough times

Carol Hampshire, who works with Ms Roach, said she believes the COVID-19 restrictions can be difficult for older people to understand.

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"It's been very quiet. The older people are shielding and quite a few are uncertain what any of the guidelines are," she said.

"One of our regulars has even asked me to ring her and tell her when she's allowed to come out of her house, because she struggles to follow what the guidelines are."

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In the town centre, Elaine Young says the new ban on households being able to mix means her granddaughter's ninth birthday will have to be socially distanced.

Elaine young, who is determined to carry on with her nine year old granddaughter's birthday celebrations
Image: Elaine Young is determined to carry on with her granddaughter's birthday celebrations

"We booked this a while ago, and we're still going to have the celebration," she said.

"It means my husband and I will have to be on a separate table, but we're not going to miss out because her ninth birthday is really important.

"We've followed all the rules. We'll have our masks on and do all the necessary things, and hey presto, we'll have a good time!"

Others in town share a lack of confidence in the restrictions, or in people's desire to follow them.

"It won't make a difference," one lady tells me. "People will just ignore them like they have been doing."

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