Dozens of people stopped in their tracks to pay respect to key workers who have died during the coronavirus pandemic.

At 11am this morning, the town centre fell silent as people across the country marked International Workers Memorial Day.

This year’s tribute to vital employees was made even more significant by the coronavirus crisis, with a minute’s silence in honour of the key workers who have died with covid-19.

Andrea Egan, from the Bolton local government branch of Unison, said: “I was pleasantly surprised by today's silence, it was supposed to just be me and Jayne laying wreaths but the chief executive of the council also came out to pay his respects.

"Shop workers came out of their shops and construction workers from the Octagon stopped working and came into the square.

“This year there were no speeches, due to the government restrictions on large gatherings, however everyone who stood silent knew what they were there for. It was very poignant and emotional.

"People really came together during the silence, it was very unexpected. Today shows that people do care – under the circumstances it was quite heart-warming."

Tony Oakman, chief executive of Bolton Council, and Linda Miller from Bolton unison health branch, joined Ms Egan and Jayne Clarke from Bolton Trades Council to lay wreaths.

Once the floral tributes had been laid, those around the square broke into applause.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also observed the silence, standing alongside Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill and Chancellor Rishi Sunak inside 10 Downing Street.

Afterwards, the PM tweeted: “This morning I took part in a minute’s silence to remember those workers who have tragically died in the coronavirus pandemic. The nation will not forget you.”

Ms Egan added: "Today was about remembering our key workers, but as our motto says we must remember the dead and fight for the living.

"There is a lack of PPE for workers, and this is something we are seeing in Bolton, particularly in the private sector.

"This is a clear health and safety issue and we will continue to fight for those workers

The silence was campaign for by Unison union, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal of College of Nursing.

More than 100 NHS and social care workers have lost their lives, including healthcare assistant Lourdes Campbell, who worked for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.

Workers in other key sectors such as transport are also among those who have died while carrying out their vital work during the pandemic.

Elsewhere in the North West, people wiped away tears outside Salford Royal Hospital as NHS staff and Unison campaigners gathered.

The silence was also followed by applause, with some passing traffic beeping horns and drivers giving thumbs-up gestures.

Neighbouring hospitals in Chorley and Preston flew flags at half-mast to mark the occasion.