Residents of Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull have been told they must not socialise with others outside their own households in private homes as coronavirus cases increase.
It comes as new laws mean groups of more than six cannot meet up in any setting across England as of yesterday (Monday 14 September) - though schools, workplaces, Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports are exempt from restrictions.
Taking contact information of customers to aid NHS Test and Trace will also shortly be legally required of pubs and bars.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “After seeing cases in the West Midlands continue to rise, the decision has been taken in collaboration with local leaders to ban households mixing in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull.
“We never take these decisions lightly but social gatherings can spread the virus quickly, and we need residents to abide by the new rules to break the chains of transmission.
“We will not hesitate to take further action if needed, and my appeal to you all is to get a test if you are symptomatic, stay at home if you are required to self-isolate, and to constantly think: hands, face, space," Hancock continued. "Only then can we avoid further restrictions, and return to a sense of normality."
The Department of Health and Social Care also confirmed it was fine for Birmingham residents to visit pubs with people outside their households whether indoors or in a beer garden, provided national rules were followed.
Other areas of the country have had stricter bans on households mixing.
What’s more, Greater Manchester town of Bolton was plunged into a strict shutdown last week with pubs and bars ordered to close and only operate as takeaways.
One Birmingham publican who operates a handful of sites in the city said she did not feel the local restrictions would make much difference to her trade.
“It's not too far removed from what we had before,” she said.
Clarity on rules
“I don't think there's either a hope nor a wish that people would [come to the pub now they can’t socialise at home.] I think what this does is help with our implementation of the guidelines.”
“I don't think for a second that it is going to change the way that people come to the pub. I don't think we will see a massive influx of people coming to the pub because they can't go round each other's houses. I think people that were going round to each other's houses have no inclination to go to the pub otherwise they would have come to the pub.”
The anonymous operator welcomed the new national ban on gatherings of more than six.
She added: “It can be quite difficult to enforce the [previous] guidelines because they were so widely varied in terms of peoples interpretations of it whereas I think this new clarity on the guidelines helps operators and law enforcement to really implement it.”
The publican said she hoped the new rules would help keep the sector open and avoid a second shutdown of hospitality in the city.