THE lifting of lockdown restrictions in Blackburn with Darwen has been paused after it was labelled an 'area of intervention' after an increase in the Covid-19 infection rate.

New data from Public Health England released on Thursday shows the borough's weekly infection rate increased from 79.2 per 100,000 people to 81.9 last week.

The borough now has the same status as Leicester where a local lockdown was imposed earlier this month but the Government is not thought to favour widespread restrictions such as the ones placed on the city.

On Saturday, gyms and leisure centres were due to reopen in the latest wave of lockdown easing but this will not be allowed in Blackburn with Darwen or Luton, the other town made 'an area of intervention' tonight.

Cllr Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council: “We are very grateful to our communities for working with us. The increase in testing is helping to ensure that we are heading in the right direction with a reduction in positive cases and hospital admissions.

“We need to keep up the momentum with our strong prevention work so we agree its sensible not to relax the easing of restrictions at the moment to stop the spread.

“We have already decided to delay the opening of our council leisure facilities along with introducing other localised prevention measures.

"We feel that accelerating our control measures in this way will assist us to move out of having higher Covid-19 rates even faster- we are grateful for the Government’s help in our local plans on this."

Blackburn with Darwen is still top of the national infection rates league table.

In Blackburn with Darwen, the rate has jumped from 49.7 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to July 13 to 81.9 in the seven days to July 20, with 122 new cases recorded.

Second on the list is Leicester, where the rate has gone down from 102.5 to 65.6, and where 233 new cases have been recorded.

In the latest figures Hyndburn now has the fifth highest infection rate (44.5 cases per 100,000 people, up from 6.2) and Pendle has fallen to eighth (27.4 cases per 100,000, down from 65.6).