City centre deserted on Christmas Eve as revellers stay away amid Omicron fears

As the rain lashed down on Manchester city centre, a man dressed as Santa Claus walked his dog along a desolate street.

On what is normally one of the busiest nights of the year, the city centre resembled a ghost town.

Streets that would have been teeming with life on Christmas Eve before the pandemic were deserted this evening as people chose to stay away amid fears over the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Photos show much-loved nightspots around the Northern Quarter and the Printworks eerily empty.

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Manchester’s bars and clubs are usually full of festive flair around this time of the year but rising Covid cases across the region appear to have put people off.

Earlier this month, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty called on people to cut social interactions in the run up to Christmas.

The quiet scenes will prove a further blow to the city’s hospitality industry, which has seen mass cancellations in recent weeks.

Concerns over the virus failed to deter last-minute shoppers earlier today as hordes of people descended on the city centre to hunt for final Christmas gifts for loved ones.

But as the big day looms, thousands of people across Greater Manchester are facing a Christmas spent self-isolating.

A further 122,186 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the UK over the last 24 hours – the highest daily total since the pandemic began.

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