Restaurant owners in Bolton are calling for restrictions to be eased across the hospitality sector.

As of today there is a nationwide curfew meaning pubs, restaurants and bars will have to close from 10pm until 5am.

However, hospitality businesses in Bolton have already been subject to strict restrictions limiting them to offering take away food and drinks or delivery services to customers.

Charlie Cammarota, the owner of Cafe Italia, a family-run restaurant in Smithills, said:”When we made that initial change at the start of lockdown into a takeaway business, that was a massive move for us. Then we reopened a few months ago having invested money into our restaurant to ensure it was safe, making sure our staff had undergone training and making cosmetic changes.

“We had feedback from customers saying that they felt safe here. But suddenly this was all whipped away from us overnight and we had to close again.

“Of course we understand the situation we are in but it doesn’t seem to be a fair and balanced approach."

“Obviously people will still travel to other boroughs in order to go out for a meal.

“I think what we need is a collaborative decision making process moving forward, with the Government, councils and businesses working together.”

Meanwhile landlady Donna Burrell has launched a petition urging the Government to make changes on Bolton’s restrictions. She owns Global Interiors in Astley Bridge, which is also home to restaurant Salotto.

She said: “These restrictions are driving people out of the town, and driving the virus further away. The message is so confusing, we had people turn up at the restaurant who were from outside of Bolton and they couldn’t even understand why Salotto’s was closed.

“It just doesn’t make any sense if cafes and restaurants down the road in Darwen can open but not here.

“There will be so many businesses out there who won’t be able to recover from this, and we don’t need more places in Bolton to shut for good.”

Leader of Bolton Council Cllr David Greenhalgh said: “We are lobbying hard on the issue and we want to assure people that this is our stance as an administration.

“We feel that Bolton is being harshly treated, we would be happy to work with the curfew arrangements.

“Within the context of Greater Manchester, if the attempt was to slow down the spread of the virus then it is just not working, people can just travel to other boroughs within the area or even go to Lancashire and neighbouring towns.

“I just think it doesn’t work and it is damaging our local economy.

“What is particularly concerning is that there are other areas in the country which have passed the threshold Bolton was at when the restrictions were placed upon us, yet no one else has had to deal with this.

“In fact we are seeing a slowing down in our borough. Of course we need to clamp down on those who are not complying but the vast majority of businesses have reopened in a safe and innovative way.

“What we need is not just a Greater Manchester wide message, but a North West message, the virus does not understand boundaries.”