A major crackdown has been enforced across Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire following a surge in new COVID-19 cases. In those regions people from two different households will no longer be able to meet indoors – in the biggest tightening of the rules since lockdown restrictions were eased.

The Prime Minister issued a warning about the possibility of a “damaging” second wave of infections after he admitted cases of the deadly virus were “bubbling up” in up to 30 towns.

Mr Johnson said: “There are between ten and 30 places where you are seeing it bubbling up a little bit. I think the country as a whole understands that the best way to deal with this is if we have tough local lockdowns to get it under control in those towns.

“It is absolutely vital that as a country we continue to keep our focus and our discipline and that we don’t delude ourselves that somehow we’re out of the woods or that this is all over, because it isn’t all over.

“The most important thing we can do is stop a second wave, a really damaging second wave, which will have real consequences.”

The restrictions in the north were suddenly announced late last night by Health Secretary Matt Hancock who stressed the need for “immediate action” in order to contain the outbreak.

In the UK figures showed the seven-day average of new cases had increased to just over 700, compared to around 550 in the second week of July.

Areas with the highest case rates per 100,000 people are Blackburn with Darwen on 83.3, Leicester 57.7, Oldham 53.1, Bradford 44.9 and Trafford 39.3, according to NHS Digital statistics.

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