More than 2.7m people in northern England have woken to fresh lockdown restrictions despite living in neighbourhoods which have had fewer than four confirmed cases in the last 14 days, Telegraph analysis has revealed.
It comes as a council leader said their local authority is "getting mopped up with the broader area" after blanket new restrictions were suddenly imposed on Thursday night.
Almost 4.5m people in Greater Manchester, Bradford, Blackburn and other areas are now banned from holding indoor meetings involving people from different households.
It comes after the latest data showed coronavirus reaching worrying levels in parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, prompting the Prime Minister to take “immediate action” to keep people safe.
Effective from midnight, people from different households were banned from meeting indoors in Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale.
According to the latest Public Health England (PHE) data, 357 of the 553 neighbourhoods affected - middle super output areas (MSOAs) - have recorded fewer than four cases in the past two weeks.
PHE suppresses weekly cases at 2 or below at this level to protect patient confidentiality.
In Rossendale, no neighbourhood has seen more than four cases in the last fortnight, and the overall infection rate stands at 4.2 new cases per 100,000 people over the most recent week of data.
37 of the 40 MSOAs in Wigan (94.5 per cent) saw fewer than four cases in the last fortnight, and 22 of the 26 (84.6 per cent) in Bury.
Trafford and Blackburn are the most widely affected local authorities, with 68 per cent and 67 per cent of neighbourhoods seeing significant infection rates.
The new measures have been introduced after sharp spikes in infection rates across many of the affected areas.
The latest data from Public Health England shows the rate of infection is now above 40 per 100,000 people in Oldham, Bradford, Pendle and Trafford in the week to July 27 as cases continue to rise.
The rate in Calderdale has sprung up from 20.8 to 33.6 in the space of a week and from 13.9 to 25.9 in Manchester.
The government has been widely criticised for a lack of communication amid the sudden announcement late on Thursday, with shadow foreign secretary and Wigan MP, Lisa Nandy, saying it had resulted in "chaos".
"Nobody is arguing that the Government shouldn't move quickly where evidence exists that there has been a spike in Covid cases, and we have certainly seen that in Greater Manchester," she told Sky News
"So, it's absolutely right that they do this. But I cannot describe to you the level of chaos that there was last night with this announcement.
"Because the Government was essentially asking people to comply with new rules in just a few hours time without any detail about what those rules were going to be."
Bradford West Labour MP Naz Shah said the announcement only gave people a few hours to change their plans, adding: "It really has disrupted people's lives."
Ms Shah said she understood the importance of introducing measures when necessary, but said the way they were announced was "an absolute omnishambles".
She added: "It's absolutely appalling, a new low in the way they communicate to the people of Great Britain."
The PHE figures show Rossendale had a rate of new cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to July 27 of 4.2, compared to 60.4 in Leicester and 54 in Oldham which have also been placed under restrictions.
The 4.2 figure puts Rossendale 153rd on the list of 315 local authority areas on that measure, and council leader Alyson Barnes tweeted to say: "Levels of CV19 in Rossendale v low!
"Our figures are some of the lowest in the country, we are just getting mopped up with broader area!"
Nearby Preston, which is not included in the new restrictions, had the 16th highest rate of new cases in the seven days to July 27 at 21.2, the same as Salford which has been included.
However, Rossendale is bordered by three areas which are in the top 20 for rates of infection, Blackburn with Darwen (first), Hyndburn (13th) and Burnley (19th).
Extra measures including a limit on the number of people allowed to visit a household were announced in Blackburn with Darwen on July 16 after a rise in coronavirus cases.
But cases are still on the rise in Blackburn. In the week to July 27, Blackburn had 88.8 cases per 100,000 people, up from 82.8 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to July 20.
The authority still has the highest weekly rate, above Wrexham with 61.8 cases per 100,000 people and Leicester, with 60.4.
The largest week-on-week rises have come in Oldham, from 23.2 to 54 cases per 100,000, Trafford, from 15.2 to 40.9, Melton, from 7.8 to 31.2 and Swindon, from 9 to 28.8.
Announcing the new rules, Health Secretary Matt Hancock 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 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 and East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe."
The fresh lockdown for the North is aimed at visits to homes, with a ban specifically on multiple households meeting inside or in the garden.
Mobility data from Google suggests that residents in Greater Manchester have had a greater preference towards staying in rather than going out during lockdown when compared to the rest of the country.
Throughout June and July the area has been above the UK average on time spent in homes and below on time spent in pubs, shops and restaurants , even with the re-opening of the hospitality industry on July 4.