OFF-duty police officers could be paid to enforce coronavirus rules across Lancashire it emerged yesterday as Blackpool was moved into county-wide restrictions.

Deputy chief constable Terry Woods revealed the plan as county health chiefs warned that failure to follow the rules, this weekend being extended to the previously exempt resort, could lead to a full lockdown.

Lancashire Resilience Forum boss Angie Ridgwell at a briefing confirmed that hospital admissions because of Covid-19 were rising as revealed by the Lancashire Telegraph yesterday.

She said: “Our rates for infection in Lancashire remain high and they continue to rise.

“We are seeing an increased rate in hospital admissions across the county and we currently have 86 people in hospital as a result of Covid infections compared to less than two weeks ago. And more sadly we have seen deaths double in the last two weeks. Last week we recorded eight deaths as a result of Covid so it is a very serious position.

“People should not socialise with anyone outside their own household either inside or outside.”

Mr Woods said his officers had made enforcing coronavirus a high priority and welcomed the government releasing £60million to forces and local authorities around the country to help pay for it.

He said: “Certainly from a policing point of view, what that would result in is that we could then pay officers to work on rest days purely devoted to Covid operations.”

Lancashire public health director Dr Sakthi Karunanithi warned failure to follow the rules could lead to a full lockdown in the county adding: “That is what we want to avoid.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council chief executive Denise Park underlined the need for everyone to observe the current coronavirus restrictions as most borough residents were doing but said there remained ‘pockets of non-compliance’.

Her Blackpool counterpart Neil Jack said a doubling of cases in the borough in a week made extending the tougher restrictions to the resort necessary but added the new infections were in the towns suburbs not its tourist areas.

Dr Karunanithi said: “We need to do more work on the test and trace system.”