The health secretary Matt Hancock has announced that all pubs and restaurants in Bolton must close for dine-in custom as part of new measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Venues will still be able to operate a takeaway service during the day, but must shut entirely between 10pm and 5am.
The change takes place with immediate effect.
Restrictions were tightened in the North West town after it became England’s worst hotspot for new Covid-19 cases. There are currently 120 cases per 100,000 population, Mr Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons earlier.
He said the rise was partly due to socialising by people in their 20s and 30s and through its contact tracing system it has identified “a number of pubs” at which the virus has spread significantly.
The announcement will come as a major blow to Bolton restaurant operators, who were only just getting back on their feet after the sector was allowed to reopen again.
It is the first time that restaurants and pubs have effectively been told to close their doors since the same restrictions were imposed on Leicester.
“This virus feeds on complacency,” said Mr Hancock. “The threat posed by the virus has not gone away. Now, with winter on the horizon, we must all redouble our efforts so we get this virus on the back foot.”