Lockdown has been tightened in parts of northern England

Government slammed for announcing new restrictions ‘late at night

Government slammed for announcing new restrictions ‘late at night

This means that while mosques can remain open, many will not able to welcome as many worshippers as before'.

Johnson reminded the nation that he has "consistently warned" that restrictions could be re-introduced, and that reopening society and the economy has always been "conditional".

Explaining that the decision had been made with "a heavy heart", Mr Hancock continued to tweet: "The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing".

The government announced yesterday that lockdown measures in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire would be tightened, following spikes in the number of cases of Covid-19.

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government had had to act fast - but local politicians have accused ministers of causing "confusion and distress" over the way the new rules were announced.

"We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble", he said, adding that we must "squeeze that break pedal in order to keep the virus under control".

The new measures will be reviewed weekly.

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said: "I don't think it is helpful" to talk yet of a second wave sweeping across Europe, but admitted the actions taken so far to ease restrictions were "at the edge" of what could be done safely.

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He said the measure was going into effect at midnight (2300 GMT Thursday).

Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, said: "Over recent days, there has been a marked change in the picture across Greater Manchester with regard to the spread of Covid-19".

"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 affected region has a large Muslim population, and the restrictions coincide with the Eid al-Adha holiday, where many people would normally gather in each other's homes.

"To. minimise risks of onward transmission here, @scotgov is STRONGLY advising against non essential travel between Scotland and these parts of the north of England", she wrote on Twitter. "Based on the data, we decided that in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire & East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe".

It is not the first local lockdown - England has lifted most of its restrictions nationally but imposed store closures around the central city of Leicester at the end of June.

Britain's official coronavirus death toll stands at just over 46,000, the third-highest total in the world after the United States and Brazil.

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