Just as businesses were hoping for light at the end of tunnel, it's been snuffed out.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a new set of restrictions today in response to the rapidly increasing coronavirus infection rate across Britain.

Pubs, bars and restaurants are facing a 10pm curfew and must operate a table only service except for takeaways.

The government is also abandoning its message that people should go back to work in the office and that they should instead work from home where possible.

The latest measures will come as a blow for many traders in Manchester city centre where activity was starting to pick up.

Back in April, the MEN published images of normally busy areas such as Market Street, Castlefield and Exchange Square looking empty as the country was told to 'stay at home'.

On Tuesday, while still quiet, the city felt more like its usual self.

Shoppers were visiting the Arndale, workers were grabbing lunch on Deansgate and Piccadilly Gardens was filled with the usual unusual mix of characters.

Now there are fears that it will all take another step back, just as government support is due to run out.

"The problem is there's not many people in the city centre," said Ismail Kocak, owner of Fix2Fit tailors on Bridge Street.

"Half of our business comes from the offices, the courts, the banks.

"This is a small business, I was talking to my neighbour who is a barber, we're all in the same boat."

Market Street starting to look busier in September - but now the government wants people to work at home again

"Normally there are six of us working here, now there are two.

"I have three kids, all the guys have families, this business is a family.

"We can't complain, the situation happened what do we do?

"We get on with it.

"I'm trying to survive and I have to make decisions.

"But I would like a little bit more help from my fellow Turkish mate Boris!"

Ismail has run his business for ten years but now fears for the future.

He would like to see more support in terms of rent reductions from landlords and help with business rates.

"Furlough is not helping," he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

"If they gave us help towards rent rather than putting people on furlough, the rent that I pay is more than the wages of some people.

"It could help small businesses like me."

At the end of August, there were widespread reports that the government was planning a 'PR blitz' to encourage people to come back to work.

The front page of The Telegraph carried the headline 'Go back to work or risk losing your job’ and reported that Boris Johnson would “extol the virtues of returning to the workplace, making the ‘emotional case’ for mixing with colleagues and highlighting the benefits to mental health”.

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However, the campaign never materialised amid reports of division within government.

"If people can work from home, they should," he told BBC Breakfast.

"But I stress that it's very important that those people whose jobs require them to be in a specific workplace do so."

Manchester city centre is facing new lockdown restrictions just as business was picking up again

He added that it was not a case of "revisiting the days at the beginning of our response to this virus" as "workplaces are safer", adding: "But one of the risks that we have to face is that social mixing overall contributes to the spread of the virus.

"So as much as we can restrain that as possible at this stage, the better for all of us and for public health."

The reality in Manchester city centre is that many large-scale businesses have never returned since the first national lockdown in March.

A trader on Market Street who only give his name as Mark, told the M.E.N: "You can tell, normally at lunchtime you get a surge at about 12, things pick up around 1-2pm.

"You don't get that now.

"It was all the office workers going for lunch.

"You see odd ones now but it's not been like it is normally since March.

"If they decide to go full lockdown, for the likes of us, small businesses, it will be a killer."