Get the latest on coronavirus. Sign up to the Daily Brief for news, explainers, how-tos, opinion and more.
Muslim families across the north-west of England were forced to change or cancel long-awaited Eid celebrations with just hours’ notice after new lockdown rules were imposed late on Thursday night.
Thousands awoke on Friday to find they were no longer able to see family or friends to mark the Muslim festival, because of new restrictions forbidding separate households from meeting each other in homes or private gardens.
The new rules – announced on Matt Hancock’s Twitter account, and which came into force at midnight – apply to Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.
The news came as Muslim communities from across the region were preparing to mark Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar.
Dentistry student Maya, 19, had been looking forward to celebrating Eid in Manchester with a huge dinner alongside family and friends. Her mother had booked out an entire restaurant for the night, and had made sure all the tables were spaced two metres apart to maintain social distancing.
“We were all excited to see family and friends,” she told HuffPost UK. “Now we have had to cancel the whole booking as well as go-karting that was booked for the younger kids. We are going to stay at home like a normal day.
“It’s just sad – I wish they had given a week’s notice or even an actual full day’s notice. They literally left it to the night before Eid where everyone was excited.”
She found it “ridiculous” that households were banned from meeting each other indoors while at the same time pubs remained open.
“Honestly, I felt attacked,” she said. “If this was done on Christmas Eve people would be appalled and I really believe that this is motivated by Islamophobia.”
More than 800,000 Muslim people live in the regions affected by the new measures, according to figures from the Muslim Council of Britain.