NORTHERNERS face £3,200 fines if they repeatedly break lockdown – as laws enforcing restrictions in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire take effect from midnight.
The tougher restrictions have been reintroduced for around five million living across areas of northern England after a spike in coronavirus cases.
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Ministers had said the rules – which ban people from different households meeting in a private home or garden – would apply from midnight on July 31.
Anyone found flouting the rules could be fined £100 up to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offences.
Officials refused to comment when asked why there had been a delay in imposing the laws and on what legal basis they had been enforced for the first five days of the measures.
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner, commenting on the legislation on Twitter, said: "They come into force and do not (cannot) apply to anything which happened before that."
The legislation imposes restrictions on metropolitan, city and borough council areas in: Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Calderdale and Kirklees.
But the restriction zone could change at any time.
The regulations also amend existing laws for Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford, which means those areas are now subject to the same measures as well.
The towns and city were initially governed by less restrictive legislation which was made on Friday and came into force on Saturday.
The latest laws also stop people from meeting others from different households in areas outside the lockdown zone, such as at homes in nearby towns not subject to the rules.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock had struggled to answer this question when asked by journalists last week.
And people cannot meet in groups of more than 30 in public places.
Critics have branded this the resurgence of the so-called "lockdown sex ban" because the law prohibits people from different households meeting in their homes.
However, the rules do not apply to meetings inside other places – such as hotels, hostels, campsites, or bed and breakfasts.
And there are exemptions to the rules, including: for those who have formed a support bubble and have become "linked" households; for people sharing childcare duties; in order to go to work; to attend a birth at the mother's request; to visit a dying loved one; to fulfil a legal obligation; to move house, to care for a vulnerable person or escape injury, illness or risk of harm.
The restrictions must be reviewed every fortnight.
As such, the next review will take place on August 19.
But they could be in place for up to six months if not scrapped by the Government first.
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