Under the new rules, separate households will no longer be able to meet indoors at each other’s homes. Mr Hancock said the changes had been brought in due to “increasing transmission” of COVID-19.
He added households had “not been abiding by the social distancing rules”.
The changes are due to come into force in Greater Manchester, as well as parts of East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.
Observers and local residents have taken to social media to express outrage at Mr Hancock’s announcement, with many puzzled over what they are now allowed to do.
Jonathan Reynolds, a Greater Manchester MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “I have to say, a few tweets from a Minister late at night is not the way to announce something as significant as this.”
Matt Hancock announced the new lockdown rules late last night
One Manchester-based Twitter user said: “What about the pubs, restaurants, shops etc.? F*** it, I’ll just meet my family at Tesco, we’ll have a right laugh in the freezer aisle. The government doesn’t have a clue what they are doing!”
Another wrote: “Greater Manchester: Can’t mix with other households from midnight. But you can go to work, the hairdressers, shops, cafes and pubs. Yep, that makes sense.”
One wrote: “We’re being encouraged to go back to offices, buy coffees and sandwiches, but eating with family is the problem? This is playing fast and loose with people’s lives.”
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham welcomed last night’s announcement, and urged residents to “protect each other.”
The new rules will affect Manchester, pictured, Greater Manchester, and some parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire
He said the new rules would be reviewed every week, claiming they would be removed more quickly if they were followed.
He said: “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.
“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.”
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Manchester mayor Andy Burnham welcomed Mr Hancock’s announcement
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said: “I know people are really worried about what they can and can’t do in just a few hours time.
“The way the government has announced this has been an absolute shambles and made it harder to follow advice.
“Please do what you can and we will keep trying to get clarity ASAP.”
One Twitter user sent a plea to Mr Burnham, urging the mayor for clarification over the rules.
Rochdale, near Manchester. Many Greater Manchester residents reacted with anger and confusion to the announcement
They said: “I have not seen my family since March time. I have isolated and hardly been out. I can go to the pub with 100 strangers but not sit in a front room with one member of my own family who has also hardly been out?”
Mr Hancock said last night: “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 Northern England.
“We’ve been working with local leaders across the region, and today I chaired a meeting of the Local Action Gold Committee.
“Based on the data, we decided that in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire & East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe.”