Lockdown restrictions in north-east England must be tightened in order to stop the surge in Covid-19 cases.
The tougher measures will affect around two million people and were announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
He said mixing between households in any indoor setting, such as pubs and restaurants, would be banned from Wednesday.
Households in the area had previously been warned to avoid mixing, but the new ban will be enforced with fines.
Maximum fine of £ 6,400
Anyone who breaks the rules and takes part in an illegal gathering could be dispersed by police, the health and welfare ministry said.
Those over 18 can be fined and could face a charge of £ 200 for their first offense, which would be halved if paid within 14 days.
The second offenses would result in a fine of £ 400, which would then double for each subsequent offense to a maximum of £ 6,400.
Mr Hancock told the House of Commons that cases in the region had “risen sharply” and the rate of infections was now over 100 cases per 100,000.
Under regulations which came into effect on September 18, residents of Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham were prohibited from socializing with other people outside their own homes or from support bubbles in homes and private gardens.
They were also advised not to socialize with people outside their home in a public place, but this was only advice and not prohibited by law.
Pubs, restaurants and other venues remain limited to table service and have a 10 p.m. curfew.
Restrictions in parts of England, including the North East, have already made it illegal to mix with other households in their homes or gardens, punishable by fines.
What is new is to extend the legal ban to all meetings with other households in indoor public places, such as pubs and restaurants – this is what will happen from Wednesday in the seven listed areas of the northeast.
So meeting someone for a drink or a meal will be against the law. Workplaces will not be affected.
It is the first time in England since the full lockdown began to be relaxed in May that such extensive legal penalties have been imposed.
The health ministry said the imposition of the measures reflected high and rising infection rates in the region, although they appeared to have surprised local council leaders.
Even as MPs question whether increased scrutiny of government restrictions is needed, health officials have signaled that further interventions in Merseyside and parts of the north-west of England could be imminent.
Mr Hancock said: “Unfortunately, the number of cases continues to rise sharply.
“We know that many of these infections occur in indoor environments outside the home. And so, at the request of the local councils we have worked closely with, we will be introducing legal restrictions on indoor mixing in any setting. ”
Mr Hancock did not say whether visits to other households for informal childcare – such as grandparents caring for children – would still be allowed under the revised rules.
Newcastle City Council chief Nick Forbes criticized the Health Secretary for the way the announcement was made.
“While we had discussions with the government on possible additional restrictions, the secretary of state stood up again and announced changes without telling us he was about to do so,” he said. he declared.
“We want to work constructively with the government, but the way these measures are communicated in the headlines and without details does nothing to promote public confidence.
“We demanded clarification on the new restrictions, testing and support for the businesses most affected. “
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