CHRISTMAS shoppers are expected to flock to Bolton this weekend, the first Saturday since second national lockdown restrictions were lifted this week.

Bosses at Market Place Shopping Centre say their teams have worked hard to reopen it safely for everyone ­— and are appealing to the public to follow the guidelines.

Alison L Stewart, Senior Asset Manager for the Moorgarth Group, which runs the centre, said: "Firstly big huge thanks to the Centre Team onsite. They have all been working really hard to make sure that the centre is decorated for Christmas and set up for safe shopping.

"But, coronavirus has not gone away.

"Social distancing regulations must still be practised and it is mandatory to wear a face covering.

"There will be times when there maybe queues, because it is is Christmas time and we just ask that everyone stays safe and sticks to the social distancing guidelines and of course wears a face mask. "

Bolton has been subject to some sort of restrictions for months, which has had an affect on local businesses.

Alison said: "Bolton’s had it really tough since September with first the local, then the regional, followed by the national restrictions that have been in place. This is especially so for the beauticians and brow bars, thankfully open again but also our leisure and hospitality sector, while we remain in tier 3, cafes and restaurants open for takeaway only. I just hope that we’ll be able to reopen our restaurants soon, back to full compliment too.

"We all want people to be able to visit and to shop, to reconnect with the real live physical world and enjoy a bite to eat in a safe and secure environment.

"There are promising signs ahead.

"If we can all conform to the public health regulations, hopefully that won’t be too."

Shoppers benefit from two hours free on-street parking on Saturday, and NCP multi-storey car parks on Deane Road, Topp Way and the Octagon are free all weekend and Bank Holidays, and are free for a maximum of two hours on weekdays.