Mayor Andy Burnham has urged caution in response to the latest coronavirus concerns across Greater Manchester.
There are two suspected cases of the new Omicron variant in the Bolton region and both people involved are currently self-isolating with their families.
After news of the latest strain entering these shores, Burnham wants people to be cautious but does not think Christmas parties should be cancelled too hastily at this stage.
“We don’t believe given the current evidence, though we stress it may change as we learn more about Omicron, that there is a need for people to overreact,” Burnham said.
“People should get in the habit of taking regular lateral flow tests.
“But if the right measures are taken and people are careful, there is no reason for people to cancel events or bookings.
“We would encourage people not to do that as long as they are also taking those necessary precautions.”
While Burnham and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have told people not to cancel their festive plans just yet, wearing masks have now been made mandatory in both shops and public transport.
Mancunian Matters took to the streets of Manchester and learned residents were pleased with the response.
Manchester resident Quinton Sprach believes the government has reacted proactively rather than their usual reactive approach.
“I don’t think the government were too hasty,” he said.
“I’m triple jabbed but I’m still concerned about the new variant because it’s in danger of messing up my ski holiday again this year!” he said.
“It’s sensible to be protected even with this variant because you’re not only doing it for yourself but the people you come into contact with. That’s why you should wear a mask as much as you can.
“Normally the government has done too little and decisions have been too slow but I’m surprised they’ve done something so soon.”
Much frustration lies at the removal of mandatory mask wearing in the first place while cases were still high.
“I don’t know why masks were ever not mandatory. We should have kept them longer, another resident, Keith, who works in Manchester told us.
“But the government has had such a hard job and it’s an unknown quantity so they haven’t had a clue how to deal with it.
“It’s very easy to criticise but you can only criticise on the information we’ve been fed and I think it’s right we’ve been cautious.”
Marjorie, who travels via train to work in Manchester from Liverpool, has concerns about the inconsistency in rules as a response to the new Omicron variant.
Masks may be necessary in shops and public transport, but not other hospitality sectors such as pubs and restaurants.
“I have concerns because it’s unknown and until we have more information, we need to be cautious,” she said.
“I don’t see the point in having masks in shops and train stations though if you aren’t doing it in the hospitality industry.
“We should have been shut down quicker initially though and that has caused us a lot of problems to this day.”
However, there are still concerns that not everyone will be compliant to the mask rules.
“I don’t really see the point in bringing (masks) back,” one unnamed resident added.
“Most of the country has been jabbed and we’ll just keep on going backwards if restrictions keep coming in.”
The police are set to enforce the new regulations ‘where necessary’ and supermarkets have said they will have workers reminding customers to wear their masks.