Millions of people from separate households in the North West of England are banned from meeting each other indoors, health secretary Matt Hannock has said.

As of Friday, those in parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire, and West Yorkshire will be subject to new restrictions due to a spike in local coronavirus cases.

Mr Hancock said: "Households gathering and not abiding by the social distancing rules" had caused the increase and that the new restrictions would "keep the country safe".

"We're constantly vigilant and we've been looking at the data, and unfortunately, we've seen across parts of northern England an increase in the number of cases of coronavirus."

Which areas will be affected?

  • Greater Manchester:

    • City of Manchester

    • Trafford

    • Stockport

    • Oldham

    • Bury

    • Wigan

    • Bolton

    • Tameside

    • Rochdale

    • Salford

  • Lancashire:

    • Blackburn with Darwen

    • Burnley

    • Hyndburn

    • Pendle

    • Rossendale

  • West Yorkshire:

    • Bradford

    • Calderdale

    • Kirklees

What will be illegal?If you live in any of the above areas, it will be illegal to meet people outside your household/support bubble inside a house or garden.

Unless social distancing guidelines are followed, you also should not visit someone's home or garden who lives outside the affected areas.

Can I still go for a drink with my sister?

You should not go to indoor public venues (like pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops and places of worship) with people outside your household or support bubble.

Can I still have people in my support bubble round?

Yes. Where people from single adult households (people who live alone or single parents with dependent children aged under 18) have formed a support bubble with another household, they can continue to visit each other.

They can also stay overnight and go to other public places as if they were one household.

It's supposed to be really hot this weekend. Can I meet my friends for a picnic?

In line with national guidance, you can still meet in a public outdoor place in groups of no more than six, unless the group solely includes people from two households.

You should always socially distance from people you do not live with.

My office is in the affected area - can I still go to work?

Whether you live inside the affected area or not, you can continue to travel in and out for work.

Can I still meet with loved ones to celebrate Eid?

Not if this means meeting people outside your household or support bubble indoors.

Meeting friends and family in other venues, including restaurants or cafes, is also set to be illegal.

However, up to two households, or six people from any number of households may meet outdoors where there is a lower risk of infection. If you do so, you should still socially distance from those you do not live with.

You may attend a mosque, but you must socially distance from people outside of your household. 

People wearing face masks have their temperatures checked before being allowed to go into Manchester Central Mosque on Friday. Credit: PA

What about other places of worship, like churches or synagogues?

Yes, but you must socially distance from people outside of your household. This means maintaining a distance of 2 metres, or 1 metre with mitigations (e.g. face coverings). We recommend at this time that if possible prayer/religious services take place outdoors.

Can I visit my elderly father in a care home?

Yes, but you must socially distance from him and others outside of your household.



I own a restaurant. Will I have to close it down again?

No, unlike the Leicester lockdown public places have not had to shut. While these places remain open, people are urged only to visit with members of their own household and to maintain social distancing from others.

In Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford, indoor gyms, indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor sports courts and facilities and indoor swimming pools, including indoor facilities at water parks must remain closed.

I live in this area and have been shielding. Do I have to continue?

If you have been classed as 'clinically extremely vulnerable' by the government, you will no longer have to follow the shielding guidance from August 1.

This is unless you live in Blackburn with Darwen and other areas outside the North West where shielding continues.

An advisory warning of local restrictions was placed outside Blackburn Town Hall earlier this month. Credit: PA Images

Why does Blackburn with Darwen face extra restrictions?

In Blackburn with Darwen, the rate has risen from 83.3 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to July 20 to 89.3 in the seven days to July 27. A total of 133 new cases have been recorded.

As a result of this increase, the town has been highlighted on a PHE watchlist as an “area of concern”.

Rates of infection are also increasing across 13 of the 19 local authorities in the areas where the new measures are being imposed.

How will the new rules be enforced?

The government said it will sign new regulations to make the changes "legally enforceable" and give police forces and councils powers to implement these new rules.

The government added that police will be able to issue fixed penalty notices. They will start at £100, halve to £50 if paid in the first 14 days, then double for subsequent offences.

Meanwhile, police forces in the North West say they're sceptical of their ability to enforce the rules.

Rachel Hanley, the Chair of the Lancashire Police Federation, said local forces will try their best to keep people safe, but "parts of the new regulations will be difficult, if not almost impossible, to enforce".

Chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation Brian Booth called the government's announcement "haphazard".

He added: "It is absolute nonsense that we as the police service have not been afforded the time to put things in place prior to an announcement."


Coronavirus: Everything you need to know: