EAST LANCASHIRE is bracing itself for a second national lockdown which will come into force on November 5.

Prime minister Boris Johnson made the announcement on Saturday evening, amid rising infections rates across the country.

This comes after a difficult period since late July for Lancashire with several boroughs across the county afflicted with high infection rates,

According to the new restrictions, all non-essential retail stores with have to close until at least December 2, along with indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, entertainment venues and personal care facilities.

Restaurants will be takeaway only but pubs are not allowed to offer alcohol takeaways.

A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: “This announcement is hard for everyone, no one wants to go back into lockdown.

“But we’re a county whose identity is rooted in togetherness, community and cooperation.

“We’ll get through it together.”

This new lockdown will pose a huge challenge for businesses, many of which will have to close for the next four weeks or possibly, as cabinet minister Michael Gove admitted yesterday, even longer if infection rates remain too high.

Research conducted by Preston-based corporate restructuring firm Begbies Traynor shows that Lancashire has seen a 15% surge in the number of firms operating under significant financial distress despite government support schemes.

Mr Johnson said the Government will extend furlough payments at 80% to December and for the duration of the new national lockdown measures.

Chairman Ric Traynor said: “The truth is that this crisis has hit all business owners by complete surprise.

“They weren’t ever expecting to face such a drop off in activity or footfall, and few can be prepared for such a cliff edge in revenue.”

Mr Johnson said: “I’m under no illusions about how difficult this will be for businesses which have already had to endure such hardship this year and I’m truly, truly sorry for that and that’s why we’re going to extend the furlough system through November.”

Now, several businesses across East Lancashire have already announced their plans to shut on social media.

Carole Davis, landlady of the Clifton Arms in Blackburn, said: “Please remember don’t be afraid, we are all in this together.

“Not one of us knows what the answers are to how, what, when but one thing I can guarantee we are all in this together, let’s unite and help one another in these uncertain times.”

Meanwhile other businesses are preparing to keep some services going, such as Blackburn’s Khyber Cafe which will still be offering takeaways.

A cafe statement said: “We would like to thank everyone for your support over the last six months, in these tough times you have shown us some overwhelming support, and we will remain open during this lockdown as we hope our food will bring a smile in these horrendously tough days.”

Some retailers, like clothes outlet Seasons Clitheroe will continue to trade online.

Meanwhile schools and colleges will remain open, however, teachers have expressed concern sthat failing to shut schools will be dangerous and could allow the virus to continue to spread.

For more information on Begbies Traynor, visit: https://www.begbies-traynorgroup.com/our-people/ric-traynor.