CORONAVIRUS restrictions in parts of East Lancashire are expected to continue when the Government reviews existing measures later this week, but will be more tightly targeted and focus on smaller areas.

People in Oldham and in specific wards in Pendle and Blackburn were told not to socialise with anyone outside their household from midnight on Saturday.

They were also advised to only use public transport if essential and numbers attending weddings, civil partnerships and funerals were restricted to up to 20.

Council chiefs in Blackburn welcomed the announcement after they campaigned for a targeted approach at a “really local level” and said resources and efforts could be concentrated on the places that needed it most.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) also lifted restrictions in Wigan, Rossendale and Darwen, bringing them in line with the rest of England.

The next announcement by the DHSC on restrictions in the “northern area of intervention” is due to take place after a meeting on Thursday of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) chaired by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Local councils and MPs are expected to make their recommendations to the JBC by Wednesday over where, if any, restrictions should be imposed in their local areas.

Last week, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said he hoped more boroughs in the region could be released from the restrictions, which he said were working and driving case numbers down.

But Mohammed Iqbal, the leader of Pendle Council, criticised the extra restrictions imposed in the borough as numbers of Covid-19 cases continued to fall.

He said: “We are not signed up to extra Government restrictions.

“This is not what Pendle needs right now.

“What we do need is extra support from the Government, including financial support to ensure the safety messages and rules for Pendle reach everyone.”

Last week Mr Hancock said: “Our approach is to make the action we take as targeted as possible, with the maximum possible local consensus.

“To do that we are introducing a new process to increase engagement between local leaders, both councils and MPs, with the aim of taking as targeted action as possible.

“This will allow local councils to focus resources onto the wards which need more targeted intervention in order to drive infection rates down, and gives local people a stronger voice at the table.