Go to Oldham and it becomes quite apparent why it’s the most infected place in the country

Even the grim weather has not put people off hitting the shops and local pubs in Oldham town centre.

It is hard to remember that this is one of the 10 local authorities with increased restrictions due to a high number of COVID-19 cases.

In fact, by the way people are acting here, it becomes quite apparent why Oldham is currently the most infected place in the country.

Image: There is very little signage about the high risk of coronavirus in Oldham

Many people are not wearing masks, the two-metre rule is practically out of the window, and I have spoken to a number of people who were open enough to tell me they are meeting up with different households.

“People here are fed up,” one shopper told me.

“They don’t care here anymore. They just want life to get back to normal,” she continued.

It is market day today in the town centre, but it is quiet, and many of the shutters are down.

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Mary Eleftheriou runs a stall here selling bedding and towels. She said a local lockdown “will destroy” her.

“It will kill the community altogether, not just the market. None of us can afford to be shut again, it’s just impossible.

“The business isn’t even picking up yet, we’re still in that process so it’s going to take time. We can’t afford another lockdown.”

Image: Market stall trader Mary Eleftheriou says a local lockdown ‘will destroy’ her

Oldham’s MP, Jim McMahon, is trying to reassure the community. In a predominantly Asian area of the town, he has spent the afternoon speaking to residents, reminding them of the guidelines and reassuring them that he will do all he can to prevent another lockdown.

In the town centre, there is very little signage about the high risk of coronavirus in Oldham. Every now and then, you see a marker on the floor reminding you to keep two metres apart, but even those are fading away.

Image: Jim McMahon is the MP for Oldham West and Royton

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There are no billboards, no stark reminders, as I have seen in Leicester and Manchester City centre.

It is clear from the mood here that Oldham wants things to get back to normal, but the signs of that happening are far off.

In fact, the ignorance for the rules from some people here, means life could be very different once again.


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