As Muslims prepare to celebrate Eid tomorrow, the government has just announced that separate households won’t be allowed to meet indoors in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire from midnight.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said an “increasing rate of transmission” had been identified in those areas.
5Pillars understands that the new measures will not affect mosques which plan to hold Eid prayers in the morning, as long as they observe the usual social distancing.
“The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing,” Hancock said. “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.”
The areas that will have tighter restrictions are Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees.
He also said the same restrictions will apply to the city of Leicester.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said there had been a “marked change in the picture” with regard to the spread of Covid-19 in the area.
He said: “Over recent days, there has been a marked change in the picture across Greater Manchester with regard to the spread of Covid-19.
“We have gone from a falling rate of cases in nearly all of our boroughs last week to a rising rate in nine out of ten affecting communities across a much wider geography. In Rochdale, the one borough where cases have fallen, they are still too high.
“We have always said that we will remain vigilant and be ready to respond quickly should the need arise. In line with that approach, I have agreed with the Health Secretary that it is right to act on the precautionary principle and introduce modest measures now to bring down the rate of new infections.
“I ask all Greater Manchester residents – young and old alike – to protect each other by observing these new requirements. They will be reviewed weekly; meaning the more we stick to them, the quicker they will be removed.
“This is a place which prides itself on looking out for each other. We now need to be true to that by not acting selfishly and keeping the health of others in mind at all times.”
Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramdhaan Foundation, who lives in Manchester, said it was chaotic and appalling that the government had brought in the news measures at such short notice.
He said on Twitter: “What a sh**show. I’m just so angry they left it to three hours before midnight. New rules and restrictions come into force… and what is worrying we don’t have the details… Just spoke to the Downing Street Press Office – Mosques already COVID protected will be allowed to have #EidAlAdha prayers in the morning. The restrictions are only in relation to visiting houses.”
And another Manchester resident, Jahanghir Mohamed of the Centre for Muslim Affairs, told 5Pillars: “Everybody is disappointed – it seems like a very late announcement. I’m sure they’ve had the figures so could have announced it much earlier. We won’t be able to visit the family we were planning to visit now. The sentiment is that it’s been timed for Eid – people can still go to pubs, you can still go shopping but you can’t visit each other’s houses. It’s a bit baffling really.
“We know there’s restrictions in Oldham, Rochdale, Blackburn and cases have been going up. Central Manchester hasn’t been as bad but I guess part of the fear is that a high percentage of the spread in some of the towns is among the South Asian community and it might spread if they start visiting each other.”