NEW coronavirus restrictions are expected to be imposed on East Lancashire in the next 48 hours.

The government has pencilled in an announcement of tighter rules amounting to a 'social lockdown' for tomorrow afternoon.

With the rapid rise in Covid-19 infections across all of East Lancashire's boroughs blamed on 'household to household' transmission, the new crackdown will concentrate on limiting contact between families and other groups.

It is likely to see the whole of Lancashire upgraded to the same special measures as the eight wards in Blackburn and seven in Nelson and Brierfield with added restrictions similar to those in North-East England.

New measures being considered include making guidance on socialising with anyone outside of your household or support bubble in your house, garden or anywhere else legally enforceable with fines.

Another is a ban on non-essential travel of more than three or five miles from your home.

A strict legal limit on gatherings is also on the cards with major celebrations such as Bonfire Night, Hallowe'en and Remembrance Day on the way.

There could be further restrictions on pubs, restaurants and other hospitality, and leisure venues to prevent household mixing backed by fines.

Also being considered is ordering secondary schools and colleges to move to 'blended learning' - one week in class and one online.

The new restrictions are expected to be backed with cash for councils to recruit officers to enforce them.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's public health director Professor Dominic Harrison says the new rules 'may involve special measures very similar to the current restrictions in place in the North-East of England'.

Burnley Council leader Cllr Mark Townsend said: "With the recent spike in cases in the borough I would welcome tougher restrictions to clamp down on household transmission so the virus does not get out of hand."

His Ribble Valley counterpart Cllr Stephen Atkinson said: "I am concerned about rising infection rates and would support tougher restrictions. I do not have a view on the time pubs should close provided the closing times are the same across East Lancashire."

Hyndburn Borough leader Cllr Miles Parkinson said: "I would be cautious about stricter rules unless linked to a package of support for councils and individuals and businesses affected."

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire County Council's public health director said: "Suppression of the virus without supporting individuals and businesses is only going to lead to depression. We need simple and clear rules that take the public with us

"Community consent will be vital."