BURNLEY and Hyndburn boroughs were this afternoon taken out of strict coronavirus restrictions by the government.

But parts of Blackburn and Pendle were kept under tough extra measures.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock's decision was welcomed by Hyndburn MP Sara Britcliffe who had lobbied him to ease the restrictions on her constituency.

She said: "I am absolutely delighted."

Hyndburn and Burnley will now have all enhanced restrictions lifted on Wednesday to bring them in line with the rest of the country, Darwen, the southern part of Blackburn, Rossendale and Ribble Valley.

Residents in Nelson and Brierfield, eight wards in north Blackburn and Preston remain under additional restrictions which mean residents cannot socialise with anyone, anywhere.

Elsewhere in the county, all existing restrictions remain, which means that in the rest of Pendle residents can't have visitors or visit others in their homes or gardens, or socialise with friends at indoor venues.

Lancashire's Director of Public Health Dr Sakthi Karunanithi said: "People living in Burnley and Hyndburn will be pleased that government has lifted the additional restrictions in their areas, but this should not lead to complacency.

"In both Burnley and Hyndburn infection rates are significantly above the national average with an increasing rate in Hyndburn.

"Coronavirus does not respect administrative boundaries and there is a high volume of social, educational and commuting travel between these areas and Lancashire's hotspots.

"The virus is very much still present in both Burnley and Hyndburn so residents must play their part to help protect themselves, their families and their communities."

Pendle council leader Mohammed Iqbal said "We are working with the community to remove restrictions across Pendle.

"The message is please adhere to the rules, get tested and only then can we get back some freedom."

Professor Dominic Harrison, director of public health at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “ Blackburn with Darwen will continue to drive down the rates of COVID-19 transmission in the eight key wards identified for further special measures. The latest data shows we are making progress – but my judgement is that it will take a few weeks to deliver a sustained reduction.”

Leader of Burnley Council, Charlie Briggs said: “This is good news for every resident and business in the borough. The lifting of the additional restrictions is thanks to the efforts of our whole community.

“However, we need to remain on alert. The change doesn’t come into effect until Wednesday and that is only if there is no deterioration over the coming days. After that, our schools are going back and I know that people want to get back to normal life, but we must remember that the virus hasn’t gone away. There are still cases in Burnley."

Gary Hall, deputy chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum, said: "In most parts of Lancashire things are heading in the right direction, and I would like to thank everyone for playing their part. I understand how difficult it has been and appreciate the sacrifice people have made.

"If we continue on this path I am hopeful that all parts of Lancashire will have the remaining restrictions lifted soon."

Today's announcement follows a spike in coronavirus cases. Pendle has seen the borough rise to the top of the country’s list of most infected areas.

Last week, both Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle were overtaken by Oldham after both boroughs recorded a reduced number of cases.

However with 53 new infections in the seven days up to August 24, Pendle now has the highest rolling rate in all of England – with a rate of 57.5 cases per 100,000.

But despite the borough rising back up to the top of the list, there has been an overall reduction in the infection rate compared to the period up to August 17, when it was 81.4 per 100,000.

The rate in Blackburn with Darwen is 56.8, down from 68.1, with 85 new cases.