LANCASHIRE political leaders and health bosses have urged residents to stick to the rules of the new Covid-19 lockdown they said was 'inevitable' and 'difficult'.

Their comments came after Blackburn with Darwen public health director Professor Dominic Harrison said the 'unwelcome but necessary' move represented ‘the most dangerous point in the coronavirus pandemic’.

His Lancashire County Council counterpart Dr Sakthi Karunanithi echoed his plea to observe the new rules.

Burnley Council leader Cllr Mark Townsend said the new lockdown announced on Monday night was 'inevitable' while Ribble Valley Council's political boss Cllr Stephen Atkinson said Boris Johnson had 'not alternative' to the move.

Dr Karunanithi said: "We need to be reduce the spread in our communities. Rates are increasing around Lancashire, so people need to follow the rules and protect each other.

"Please make sure that you take a look at the government's latest rules, so that you know what you should be doing and how to protect the people you care about.

"If you are showing any of the symptoms, please get a test so that you can avoid passing it on to other people. 

"We know that some people will find it difficult that we’re in another lockdown. There is help and support available if you are struggling with your health and wellbeing during this time."

Cllr Atkinson said: “In the past three and half weeks the rate per 100,000 in the Ribble Valley has quadrupled.

"This was while the borough was in tier three restrictions therefore there was no alternative in order to protect the NHS than to go into the further restrictions which the Prime Minister has announced."

Cllr Townsend said: "The need for a hard lockdown was inevitable in the light of growing pressure on our health service.

"To save lives it is vital that everybody follows the rules and we renew the spirit and sense of seriousness that got us through the first lockdown last March.

"These are going to be an extremely difficult few weeks for Burnley residents and businesses so it's vital that the government delivers on its promise to vaccinate priority groups by mid-February to enable the lockdown to be as short as possible."

Cllr Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "If we all work together then we can reduce the spread in Lancashire and reduce the need for additional measures.

"We know that people have been working really hard to protect each other since the pandemic arrived in the county last year. Thank you for all that you are doing.

"It's a difficult time for us all, but we can get through this."