Where stricter Covid restrictions have been imposed in parts of northern England
Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement in a series of tweets shortly after 9pm on Thursday, July 30 – giving only a couple of hours’ notice before the new restrictions, which came into force at midnight, were rolled out.
The new rules, which affect Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire, also ban members of two different households from mixing in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues.
These businesses will remain open for those visiting individually or from the same household.
Mr Hancock said “households gathering and not abiding by the social-distancing rules” was a reason for the stricter rules, and that the move was in order to “keep the country safe”.
In a series of announcement tweets, he added: “We take this action with a heavy heart but unfortunately it’s necessary because we’ve seen that households meeting up and a lack of social distancing is one of the causes of this rising rate of coronavirus and we’ll do whatever is necessary to keep the country safe.”
The Government said it will sign new regulations to make the changes “legally enforceable” and will give local authorities and police forces the powers to enforce these restrictions.
The new rules apply to the whole of Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire including Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale as well as Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees in West Yorkshire.
The same restrictions will also apply to Leicester, which saw the first so-called “local lockdown” imposed on Monday, June 29.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham welcomed the measures, which he said would be reviewed on a weekly basis.
But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, while also welcoming the measures, criticised the Government’s handling of communicating the change to the public.
In a tweet, he said: “No one would argue with putting in place local action to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
“But announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the government’s communications during this crisis.”