New restrictions have been introduced in parts of England, banning separate households from meeting one another at their homes following a spike in cases of Covid-19.
The rules, which came into place at midnight last night, are directed towards those in east Lancashire, west Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester. Health secretary, Matt Hancock, attributed the increased rates of transmission to people visiting friends and family.
Hancock continued that the government had taken “targeted action” using information from contact tracing which he said had shown that "most of the transmission is happening between households visiting each other, and people visiting relatives and friends".
The new rules mean that those from different households will not be allowed to meet in homes or in private gardens. Members from two separate households are also banned from meeting in pubs and restaurants, though individual households are not prohibited from attending such venues.
The timing of the announcement has been criticised by the Labour party, as the legislation has come into play with Muslim communities preparing to celebrate Eid this weekend, almost four weeks after restrictions were eased across England.
Leicester faces the same restrictions, with the local lockdown in place for almost a month. Pubs, restaurants, and other similar establishments will be able to reopen from Monday in parts of the city.
When asked about the specific timing of the localised lockdown, Hancock said, “my heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas because I know how important the Eid celebrations are."
Sir Keir Starmer, tweeted that the announcement marked "a new low for the government's communications during this crisis".