People from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire have been banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in virus cases.
The new rules also ban members of two different households from mixing in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues, but these businesses will remain open for those visiting individually or from the same household.
The Government said it will give police forces and councils powers to enforce the new rules – adding that some exemptions will be put in place, including for the vulnerable.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “households gathering and not abiding by the social-distancing rules” was a reason for the stricter rules, announced late on Thursday evening, and that the move was in order to “keep the country safe”.
He said: “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 move comes as celebrations take place for the Muslim festival of Eid al Adha, which started on Thursday evening and continues over the weekend, and after the Government reimposed quarantine measures for those arriving in the UK from Spain and Luxembourg.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham welcomed the measures, which he said would be reviewed on a weekly basis.