HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock has been accused of making his announcement about new coronavirus restrictions “at the last minute” as it came just hours before the Islamic festival of Eid-Ul-Adha.

People were told on Thursday night that they would not be allowed to enter each other's houses or visit indoors just hours from the midnight deadline.

Mr Hancock announced the changes on Twitter at 9pm, affecting Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, along with Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.

Mr Hancock said the move was part of action to keep people safe after a rise in coronavirus cases.

The new rules will also ban members of two different households from mixing in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues, however these businesses will remain open for those visiting individually or from the same household.

Speaking on Thursday night, he said: “We’re constantly looking at the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, and unfortunately we’ve seen an increasing rate of transmission in parts of England.

“We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of Covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe.”

Asked whether the measures were to stop Eid celebrations from taking place, Mr Hancock said: “No, my heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas because I know how important the Eid celebrations are.

“I’m very grateful to the local Muslim leaders across the country who’ve been working so hard. For instance, celebrating Eid in parks where there’s more space available and of course outdoors is safer than indoors.”

Our readers have also reacted to the news on social media about the new measures.

Christine Hanna said: “Why didn’t they do it sooner, so unfair for those celebrating Eid. It’s like doing it on Christmas Eve for us. All preparations wasted.”

However, some readers believed the restrictions were a good thing.

Gemma Taylor said: “It makes you laugh, all these people moaning are probably the same people that moaned that the Government were too slow to react the first time around. Just deal with it, none of us wants a full lockdown again, the devastation that would have on the economy would be awful.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday that the further easing of lockdown in England, due to take place today, including allowing small wedding receptions and re-opening bowling alleys as casinos, would be delayed for a fortnight.

He warned the country “cannot be complacent” amid a rise in the prevalence of coronavirus in the community.

Face coverings will also become mandatory in indoor settings such as museums and places of worship from August 8.

According to the Office of National Statistics, between July 20 and 26 there were around 0.78 new Covid-19 infections for every 10,000 people in the community population in England - equal to around 4,200 new cases per day.

This is up from an estimated 2,800 new cases a day in the previous week