Separate households will not be allowed to meet indoors in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire from midnight, the government has announced.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said an “increasing rate of transmission” had been identified in those areas.
“The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing,” he said.
He also said the same restrictions will apply to the city of Leicester.
The areas that will have tighter restrictions are Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees.
“We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of Covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe,” Mr Hancock.
On Thursday, a further 38 people in the UK died, bringing the total number of Covid-19 associated deaths to 45,999.
And 846 cases were reported – the highest number of cases in a day for a month.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said there had been a “marked change in the picture” with regard to the spread of Covid-19 in the area.
“I ask all Greater Manchester residents – young and old alike – to protect each other by observing these new requirements,” he said.
“They will be reviewed weekly; meaning the more we stick to them, the quicker they will be removed.
“This is a place which prides itself on looking out for each other. We now need to be true to that by not acting selfishly and keeping the health of others in mind at all times.”
But Labour’s MP for Oldham, in Greater Manchester, and shadow transport minister Jim McMahon called for more clarify over what the government was doing to support those in areas affected by new lockdown restrictions.
“On the face of it, for Oldham borough residents this is the same restriction announced already this week, replicated in further areas,” he tweeted.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said the decision to ban households in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire from meeting indoors was the “right” one.
She said the UK government was “right to act quickly”, adding: “This is a sharp reminder that the threat of this virus is still very real.”