BLACKBURN with Darwen’s civic leaders have urged residents to use common sense when taking advantage of the government’s proposed relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

They say that while the changes due on July 19 are welcome, people should continue to wear face masks in enclosed spaces and social distance to ensure the spread of Covid-19 is halted.

They stress that double vaccination is the way to defeat the virus.

Borough chief executive and boss of the Lancashire Resilience Forum Denise Park said: “Like everyone else I want to see the end of restrictions.

“Unfortunately, Covid-19 is still with us and does not look to be going away any time soon – indeed our rates remain nearly twice the national average. We do need to learn to live with the virus, but we must use our common sense.

“We are asking that you take personal responsibility to help stop the virus spreading further.”

Council leader Cllr Mohammed Khan said: “We are all really looking forward to getting back to normal.

“While plans have been outlined, at present, nothing has changed. We are still in step three and in the immediate term the mission in Blackburn with Darwen remains the same: get as many people double-vaccinated as possible, keep following guidance around testing and keep driving the infection rates down.”

Cllr Damian Talbot, the council’s executive member for health and well-being, said: “Vaccination is clearly key to reducing the risks of serious illness caused by Covid-19. We’re all pretty fed up of wearing face masks but we’ve been putting up with them for this long and it would be no hardship to continue wearing them for a few more weeks. I for one will continue to wear a mask in shops.

“I think the message is clear – as we start to get back to normal please get vaccinated; please continue wearing face coverings in enclosed places, carry on with regular hand washing and try to maintain some social distancing.”

Their message has been backed up by Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire County Council’s public health director, who said: “It is important that as long as there are high levels of the virus in our communities, that we continue to use common sense and take extra steps when appropriate.We have got into the habit of taking a face mask wherever we go and let us not drop this habit now.”