TIER 4 has not been ruled out for the whole country as Covid-19 rates continue to rise in East Lancashire.

The Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has not ruled out the whole of England being moved into Tier 4 restrictions, despite Lancashire's local leaders saying last week that they believe the county has a strong enough case to avoid the highest level of restrictions.

Mr Gove told BBC Breakfast: "We review which tiers parts of the country should be in on the basis of scientific evidence.

"The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) will be making a recommendation to ministers, but I can’t pre-empt that because it obviously has to be a judgment based on the medical situation."

Burnley currently has the highest rate of a tier 3 area in the country with 488.1 cases per 100,000 after 434 tested positive for the seven days to December 23. In the week before, the borough recorded a rate of 425.1 per 100,000 after 378 were were diagnosed with Covid-19 (seven days to December 16).

Blackburn with Darwen's rate has increased to 334.0 per 100,000 after 500 have received a positive test result - an increase from the week before which saw a rate of 251.2 when 376 were found to have the virus.

Ribble Valley, Rossendale, Pendle and Hyndburn have all seen increases in their rates as the next tier review will be held on Wednesday (December 30).

These increases come after it is believed that the new variant of the virus, which has plummeted the south east into tier 4 restrictions, is now in Lancashire.

Speaking in a press conference before Christmas, public health director for Lancashire County Council, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi said: "There is no hiding of the fact that the cases are increasing across Lancashire but we are also aware that it is being contributed to by local outbreaks.

“At this point in time, we do not believe there is a rationale for putting Lancashire into tier 4 restrictions.

“However we are also aware that there is a realistic opportunity that the cases are going to further increase.

“What we are trying to do here is at best avoid it, at least delay if for as long as we can.”

Tier 4 restrictions would close all non-essential retail, gyms and personal care and also ban the rule of six, with people only being allowed to meet up with one person outside their household for a socially-distanced walk outdoors.