Yesterday Greater Manchester authorities declared a major incident in response to a rise in coronavirus cases in the area, and there are now new lockdown restrictions for the region.
Officials sought to assure local residents not to be alarmed over the move, which was taken over the weekend, saying the declaration was "standard practice" and a means to marshal extra resources.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) described it as “no more than a boost to our capabilities” while the police force said it would mean they could “respond as effectively as possible” to the increasing Covid-19 caseload.
The move comes after local lockdown restrictions were imposed last week on Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus across northern England due to an increased rate of transmission in the region.
Now, laws enforcing lockdown restrictions for parts of the North of England including Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire have been published.
Here's what you need to know.
What are the new lockdown rules for Greater Manchester?
Ministers had said the rules – which bans people from different households meeting following a spike in coronavirus cases – would be effective from midnight on July 31.
Anyone found flouting the restrictions could be fined £100 and up to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offences.
The legislation imposes restrictions on all local authority areas covered by: Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council; Bury Metropolitan Borough Council; Manchester City Council; Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council; Rochdale Borough Council; Salford City Council; Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council; Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council; Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council; Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council, Burnley Borough Council, Hyndburn Borough Council, Pendle Borough Council, Rossendale Borough Council, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, Kirklees Metropolitan Council.
But the restriction zone could change at any time as directed by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, according to the legislation.
When do the new rules come into force?
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions on Gatherings) (North of England) Regulations 2020 come into force from midnight on Wednesday.
What constitutes a major incident?
According to Jesip, an organisation which sets out the standard approach to how organisations such as police and councils work together, a major incident is an event or situation with a range of serious consequences, which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agencies.
The Government website states that local councils have emergency plans covering major incidents such as flooding, flu pandemics and transport accidents.
Jesip said declaring a major incident “triggers a predetermined strategic and tactical response” for each emergency service and any other agencies which may be involved.
Why was a major incident declared in Greater Manchester?
The decision to declare a major incident was taken by the Strategic Coordination Group on the weekend after they met to discuss the increased lockdown restrictions announced last week across parts of the North West.
Out of the top 20 worst affected local authority areas for Covid-19 infections in England, Greater Manchester boroughs - home to almost 3 million people - comprise more than a third of the list, with seven entries.
Oldham, the second-worst affected borough in the country, recorded a seven-day infection rate rise from 41.6 to 62.8 per 100,000 people, with 148 new cases reported in the past week.
But Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, sought to dispel any alarm over the move to declare a major incident.
“People should not be alarmed that a major incident has been declared,” Sir Richard said.
The Labour politician called the move “standard practice for complex situations” and said it would allow a “central command structure” to be created to enable agencies to “draw on extra resources”.
What does the declaration mean?
The declaration at the weekend does not change the local lockdown restrictions announced on Thursday, the GMCA said, but allows public agencies in the area to access any extra resources they might need “as quickly and efficiently as possible”.
The GMCA, which is made up of ten councils - Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan - said the public should be "reassured" that the guidelines remain unchanged.
The new measures forbid people from different households from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens, while also banning separate households from mixing in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues.
Where else has a major incident been declared during the Covid-19 pandemic?
In June, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council declared a major incident when it said services were “stretched to the absolute hilt” as thousands of sun-seekers flocked to beaches amid a heatwave.
Dorset Police explained that doing so allowed them to bring agencies together “so we can take actions available to us to safeguard the public as much as possible”, with much of the national lockdown still very much in place amid the pandemic.
Extra police patrols were brought in as the council said it had been left with no choice but to “initiate an emergency response” to deal with the huge crowds.