The crackdown in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, following a spike in coronavirus infections there, was announced Thursday evening and went into effect at midnight.
Anyone ignoring the directions could face a fine of £ 100.
But the timing was a big blow to Muslims as the Eid holiday began.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock denied he was aiming to cut back on celebrations, adding: “We are allowing mosques and other religious places to stay open because they have done so much work to enable safe celebration and worship by Covid. ”
But Harun Khan of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “For Muslims in affected areas, it’s like being told that they can’t visit family and friends for Christmas on Christmas Eve itself. .
He added: “The government has not provided clarity on the notice and the shockingly short reasoning behind the new rules.”
Greater Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham also called for clarity.
He said he was only given a few hours’ notice before the new restrictions were introduced, and no immediate details were provided by the government on the crackdown.
He added, “I think this has caused some uncertainty, confusion and stress for some of our residents.
Naz Shah, Labor MP for Bradford West, said: “This is a new low in the way they communicate with the British people.”
Wigan MP and shadowy Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said, “I can’t describe to you the level of chaos there was last night with this announcement.”
Members of the public also expressed confusion over the new guidelines.
In Bury, Greater Manchester, Lynn Beever, 53, said: “What’s confusing is that we can go to a public place like the pub with our family, but not our friends.”
Jamie Allen, 28, said: “It seems weird that we can still shop but can’t see our family properly. “
In Bradford, West Yorks, Harry Davey, 63, said: “The government has not been clear on many of these rules. We don’t know what is the right thing to do. I wear a mask on the bus, but the driver does not, and then I come to the pub and I do not wear a mask.
Sven Tutt, 18, said: “I tried to follow the guidelines, but they were often vague. Nothing seems to make sense. You can eat in restaurants and drink in pubs, but you cannot visit your family in another house now. ”
Sacha Lord, nightlife economics advisor for Greater Manchester, said he feared the new rules could lead pubs, restaurants and bars to close again, devastating businesses.
He added: “There is a lot of panic right now. The overnight economy opened only a few weeks ago and is on its knees, it looks like the final blow.
Brian Booth, West Yorkshire Police Federation, said: ‘As a police service we didn’t have time to get things in place before an announcement.
Rachel Hanley, of the Lancashire Police Federation, added: ‘Parts of the new regulations will be difficult, if not nearly impossible, to enforce and unfortunately I fear that it will once again be the already exhausted police service that will suffer the blows. people’s frustrations. ”
The Scottish government yesterday advised against non-essential travel between Scotland and parts of northern England following the increase in cases.
Nicola Sturgeon said Scots visiting areas affected by the new restrictions must follow the rules and “be extremely vigilant when you return home, especially for symptoms”.