Laws underpinning new lockdown restrictions for Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire are yet to be implemented four days after the rules were introduced, the Government has admitted.
Ministers said the rules – placing bans on people from different households meeting following a spike in coronavirus cases – were effective from midnight on Friday.
When the changes were announced, officials said new regulations were needed to make them legally enforceable.
Guidance published on Friday stated that it would be against the law for people from different households to meet in a private home or garden – unless they are part of a support bubble – and warned of £100 fines for those who flout the rules.
Officials said the laws were due to be signed off and published later that night.
But on Monday afternoon the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed it was yet to implement laws bringing the rules into force.
It said it was trying to make the changes legally enforceable as soon as possible but insisted the rules still applied from July 31.
When asked by the PA news agency why there was a delay and on what legal basis the rules were currently being enforced, the department refused to comment.
Police leaders have been issuing guidance to forces on how to enforce restrictions each time a new coronavirus law has been introduced during the pandemic, so officers know the powers available and in what circumstances they can impose fines in a bid to ensure any action taken is fair and proportionate.
But on this occasion, so far this has been unable to happen due to the delay in publishing the laws, it is understood.
The new restrictions apply to Greater Manchester, including the City of Manchester, Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Wigan, Bolton, Tameside, Rochdale and Salford.
They also apply to Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale in Lancashire, and Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees in West Yorkshire.
Similar restrictions will also apply to Leicester, which saw the first so-called “local lockdown” imposed on June 29.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the decision in a series of tweets on Thursday night after there had been an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England.
Muslims celebrating Eid in the affected areas were urged not to host or visit friends and family in each other’s homes or gardens and not to meet friends and family in other venues – including restaurants or cafes.