“But announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the government’s communications during this crisis.”
The household mixing restrictions will also apply in Leicester, which has seen the first so-called local lockdown since June, but other measures in the city will be eased. From Monday restaurants, cafes, bars and hairdressers can reopen – but leisure centres, gyms and pools will remain closed.
On Saturday, Luton will be brought in line with the rest of the country after “significant progress”, the Government said.
Mr Hancock added: “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.
“So, today, I held a meeting of the Government’s Gold Committee and working with local leaders, including, for instance, Andy Burnham the mayor of Greater Manchester, we’ve decided that we need to take action across Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.
“So, from midnight tonight (Friday) we are banning households meeting up indoors.”
In 13 of the 19 affected local authority areas affected, the rate of Covid-19 in the seven days to July 27 has gone up, with 1,536 cases recorded across all the areas in the space of a week.