FIVE Pennine Lancashire boroughs are set to go into the toughest coronavirus restrictions after county council bosses proposed an east-west split to the government.

Under the plan Hyndburn, Rossendale, Burnley, Pendle and Preston would be placed in tier three with no household mixing indoors or outdoors except in parks and pubs and restaurants restricted to takeaway or delivery. Blackburn with Darwen Council’s leader Cllr Mohammed Khan expects the borough to join them in the ‘Very High’ restriction category.

The proposal from Lancashire’s cabinet member for health Cllr Shaun Turner would see the rest of the county – including Ribble Valley – placed in the less draconian tier two.

This allows hospitality venues to stay open till 11pm but only serve alcohol with a substantial meal, a ban on household mixing of up to six people indoors only and permits for limited numbers of spectators to attend sports events and live performances.

The announcement of the plan by Cllr Turner followed discussions this morning by council leaders from across the county before a final decision by government expected imminently.

Cllr Turner said: “We hope the government will take into consideration our proposals for the tier system in Lancashire.

“We are seeing rates reduce across almost all parts of the county.

“With lower rates we believe it is appropriate for some parts of the county to go into tier two and hope it will be very soon before they are joined by the rest of the county.

“We can all still play our part in helping to reduce the spread and protect each other, and ensure the rate falls even further to allow us all into tier one.”

Cllr Khan: “I expect Blackburn with Darwen will be placed in the highest tier by the government because while our infection rate is falling, our cases are still much higher than the national average and hospital admissions are still quite high. I know this will be extremely frustrating for residents and businesses especially our hospitality sector who I know will feel unfairly singled out.”

Ribble Valley council leader Stephen Atkinson said: “A lower level of restrictions for the district would be a lifeline for our businesses before Christmas. Our numbers are among the fastest-falling in Lancashire and at the current rate of decline we could be down to100 cases per 100,000 people in the next few weeks.”

Rossendale Council leader Cllr Alyson Barnes said: “Looking at the numbers, there is no alternative to tier three.”