A NEW approach to tackle the spread of the coronavirus came into force over the weekend after a new incident team was set up in East Lancashire.

Police officers across the county were out in force to primarily educate members of the public seemingly still breaching lockdown regulations.

The new tougher approach resulted in the closure of a Great Harwood bar, £100 fines being handed out for non-compliance of mask rules and the cancellation of an illegal rave.

The Duke of Wellington on Blackburn road was ordered to close their doors for ‘repeated’ breaches of COVID-19 guidelines.

The order, which is the first of its time in the county, was served for the breaching of lockdown measures and was a result of a joint operation between the Department of Public Health, Lancashire Police and licensing officer at Hyndburn Borough Council.

A spokesman for Hyndburn Police said: "As part of a joint operation, a closure order has been served on The Duke of Wellington Pub in Great Harwood. This came into effect as from 7pm on Friday August 14.

"This is the first of its kind in the county that has been served in response to repeated breaches of coronavirus regulations and other incidents.

"Please adhere to the government guidelines, because by doing so you are keeping yourself and your loved ones safe."

On Saturday afternoon officers fined a member of the public £100 for not wearing a mask while in shops in Blackburn town centre, after they refused to wear a mask even after being given the opportunity to put one on by officers.

However officers did say it was ‘reassuring’ to see the majority of people adhering to rules.

A few hours later on Saturday evening a planned rave was quashed by officers after a tip-off made them aware of the event.

The illegal rave, which was due to take place in Accrington’s old mills, was cancelled after authorities contacted the organiser of the event. Those found responsible for the organisation of such gatherings can be fined up to £10,000 under new rules.

A spokesman said: “This would be a serious breach of COVID guidelines and would not only endanger the persons attending but also as a result of them attending, their immediate friends and family too.

“Our aim is to Engage, Explain , Encourage and only if necessary Enforce. However, in this instance enforcement would have been the result due to the sheer recklessness of the event.”

Officers were out in their droves patrolling areas of Blackburn, including both Shadsworth and Audley where warnings and advice were issued about social distancing and gathering in homes.

On Friday, a new government-backed ‘enhanced incident team’ was announced in five East Lancashire boroughs under the tight coronavirus restrictions.

The announcement was made by Health Minister Edward Argar as he refused to lift current tight rules on gatherings in force in Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle and Rossendale because the infection rate remained too high.

The new team headed by Public Health England’s North-West regional director Andrew Furber will bring extra cash and staff, improved testing and tracing capacity and better access to central data.

It will have a ‘laser-like focus’ on Pendle and Blackburn with Darwen, second and third behind Oldham in the latest national league table for coronavirus infections.

Mr Argar said the current restrictions would last until at least early next week but hinted they could be varied, eased or toughened then for some or all five boroughs.

The measures were announced two weeks ago to urgently tackle an increase in Covid-19 cases when Blackburn with Darwen had already been under local special measures for a fortnight.