Local lockdown restrictions have been lifted in parts of northern England despite a backlash from leaders in Greater Manchester, with Mayor Andy Burnham blasting the decision as "completely illogical".
It comes after council leaders in Bolton and Trafford felt their pleas for restrictions to remain in place, following a spike in cases, went "completely ignored" by the Government.
Social gatherings between two homes can resume for the first time in weeks from Wednesday in the two boroughs as well as Stockport, Burnley and Hyndburn.
But a sharp increase in the local infection rate in Bolton and Trafford led to council leaders pleading with the Government for a delay just hours before restrictions were lifted.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the easing of coronavirus restrictions in Bolton and Trafford was "completely illogical", and urged people to "continue to follow the guidance" not to have social gatherings in their home.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We find ourselves at a completely unsustainable position this morning - that's the politest way I can put it.
The rate of new Covid-19 cases in Bolton has jumped from 18.4 per 100,000 people in the seven days to August 22 to 59.1 in the seven days to August 29, with 170 new cases, making it the second worst in the country for infections rates after Pendle with 71.7 per 100,000 people.
Similarly, the rate in Trafford has also risen, from 19.4 to 35.4, with 84 new cases.
Council leaders in Trafford had recommended that restrictions be maintained to wait for more evidence of a sustained downward trend in positive cases but were overruled by the Government.
Labour council leader Andrew Western had written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to "urgently request clarity" on the Government's position on Trafford.
In his letter, Mr Western slammed the Government for causing "chaos and confusion" in lifting local lockdown in Trafford where the infection rate is "significantly higher" than in some other Greater Manchester boroughs that still have restrictions in place.
"The proposed arrangements now make little sense," he said.
"The system has been undermined by the Government's decision-making processes."
He added he was "very disappointed" that its representations to Government last week were "completely ignored" along with "two of our three local MPs, two of our three opposition group leaders and our director of public health".
Analysis showed that new cases in Bolton were spread across the borough and not limited to a single area, community, or place of work, said the town's council.
Infections between different households appear to be the main cause of the spike, with people aged 18-49 representing the overwhelming majority of new cases, it added.
On Tuesday, the Conservative leader of Bolton Council, David Greenhalgh, said: "We urged the Government to lift Bolton out of the additional restrictions at a time when infection rates were low.
Meanwhile, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), which is made up of the 10 Greater Manchester councils and Mr Burnham, has called on the Government to agree on an exit strategy from the local restrictions on household gatherings "as soon as safely possible".
Restrictions are still in place in Manchester, Rochdale, Bury, Tameside, Salford, Preston and Leicester, where residents are still banned from visiting others in their homes or gardens.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We are working closely with leaders and local authorities across Greater Manchester and Lancashire in response to the changing situation and we keep all local restrictions under constant consideration."