Here’s why Greater Manchester and parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire have new lockdown restrictions
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced late on Thursday evening (30 July) that new lockdown restrictions will come into place for Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.
Mr Hancock made the announcement on Twitter at 9.16pm on Thursday, explaining that people from separate households are banned from meeting each other at home.
The new restrictions came into place just a few hours later, at midnight.
Which areas are included?
Greater Manchester is included in the new restrictions, alongside Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale in East Lancashire, and Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees in West Yorkshire.
The city of Leicester, which saw the UK's first local lockdown on 29 June, is also included in the new restrictions.
What are the new rules?
Households in these areas are now banned from meeting each other indoors as of midnight on Thursday, in a bid to reduce coronavirus case numbers.
People in the affected areas will not be allowed to mix with other households (apart from those in their support bubbles) in private homes or gardens.
However, some exemptions will be put in place, including for the vulnerable.
The government will sign new regulations to make these changes legally enforceable.
This means local authorities and police forces will have the power to enforce these restrictions. More details will be available once the regulations are published.
Can I still go to pubs and restaurants?
When the announcement was made, there was confusion regarding what people could and couldn’t do, including visiting a pub or restaurant.
People can still go to pubs and restaurants, but only with members of the same household - two households or more should not go together.
However, Boris Johnson announced on Friday (31 July) that some further easing of lockdown restrictions in England, that were due to be relaxed on Saturday 1 August for higher risk settings, have been postponed for two weeks at the least.
This includes small wedding receptions, indoor performances, the pilot of crowds in sports centres and the reopening of bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos.
Alongside this, the Prime Minister announced that face coverings are to be mandatory from 8 August in other indoor settings where people are likely to come into contact with other people they do not know.
This includes museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.
Shielding will still be paused nationally from 1 August, as planned.
How long will the new restrictions last?
There is currently no endpoint to the new restrictions, but it is understood that they will be subject to a weekly review.
In Leicester, which has been under a local lockdown since 29 June, restaurants, cafes, bars and hairdressers can open from Monday 3 August, but leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed.
Cinemas and museums will also be able to open in Leicester from Monday and religious ceremonies will be able to take place.
The restrictions on household visits will continue to apply in Leicester.
Why are these new restrictions coming into place?
The new restrictions are coming into place due to current data reflecting the spread of coronavirus infections in these areas.
Announcing the measures on 30 July, Mr Hancock said: "We've been working with local leaders across the region, and today I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee.
"Based on the data, we decided that in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire & East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe.”
Mr Hancock explained that the spread of the virus “is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight tonight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas.”
Out of the 19 local authority areas affected by these new restrictions, the rate of Covid-19 in the seven days to 27 July has gone up in 13 of them.
There were 1,536 cases recorded in the space of a week.
The Health Secretary also reflected on the recent rise of coronavirus cases across Europe, which has led to new quarantine rules being enforced and numerous airlines cancelling flights to destinations, including Spain.
"We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of Covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe,” added Mr Hancock.