BUSINESSES across Blackburn and Darwen have warned of difficult times ahead as policy-makers continue to debate measures to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Pubs, restaurants, cafes and other outlets had all hoped that the easing of regulations earlier this month signalled light at the end of the tunnel after what has been the most challenging period in many firms’ histories.

Now, however, the increasing infection rate in Blackburn has left the proprietors of many of the borough’s best-loved independent outlets worried about what the future may hold.

Carole Davis, landlady of the Clifton Arms in Blackburn said: “We fear it will shut a lot of businesses if there’s a second wave and we’ll have to close down.

“Everyone’s frightened and people already don’t know if it’ll be safe to come out or not.

“People are asking, will the whole town be affected? Does everyone have to get tested? Everyone I speak to has got different views.”

“The general gist is that if there is a local lockdown there’s a lot of businesses that won’t return.”

She added: “I understand the severity of the disease but even if there is another lockdown we know not everyone will adhere to it.”

Much like pubs, the town’s cafés also face challenging prospects.

Chai Café proprietor Ali Hussain said: “We were just getting back on our feet but now fears are looming, and the threat of a second wave is costing us confidence.

“When you open a business, you need people to be confident, but this could be a business killer.

“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme works on a national level but with a local lockdown it won’t have any effect on a local level if we all have to close.

“I’m just living day-to-day.”

Spindles Diner in Blackburn Market has similar concerns.

Owner Michael Walsh said: “Our customers tend to be in their 60s, 70s and 80s so a lot of people already aren’t confident about coming back.

“If there’s a second wave and a local lockdown we’ll have to close again, and we probably won’t bother with the takeaway because it didn’t work the first time we tried it and we just ended up wasting stuff.

“We’ll just have to wait and see.”

As yet it is uncertain whether a local lockdown will be introduced and what form this will take, however the example of Leicester shows what could be in store for businesses and communities in Blackburn.

Customers and businesspeople alike will be watching the situation develop with bated breath as the borough waits to find out what lies head.