EAST Lancashire leaders have backed Boris Johnson’s warning that people must be cautious as he lifted all remaining legal coronavirus restrictions from Monday.

The Prime Minister said he expected people to continue wearing face masks in indoor spaces but did not expect everyone to be back at their desks on Monday.

He added: “It is absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution.”

Professor Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s public health director, said: “I welcome the announcements to open up the social and economic life for the residents of Lancashire by relaxing the most burdensome lockdown control measures. I also welcome that vaccine passports and face mask wearing will continue to be encouraged by government.

“I think the ideal is that we should allow maximum social and economic freedoms whilst retaining key measures that don’t compromise freedoms but do protect communities from avoidable transmission of the virus.

“The pandemic is not over. However, if we all are very careful between now and September, we should be able to maximise both our freedoms and sensible infection control.”

Cllr Mohammed Khan, the council’s leader, said: “We recognise that while many people will be keen to return to normal, there will be others who feel anxious.

“I urge people to remain cautious and learn to live with Covid. Our borough is high risk area, so we must be more cautious than other part of country.”

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans said: “I think the approach of having been cautious but now deciding to reopen, is right. It is clear that Covid will be with us for years to come, and we now need to learn to live with the virus, something which is now possible given the success of the incredible vaccination programme.”

Cllr Miles Parkinson, leader of Hyndburn Council said: “This is welcome for our local businesses who have struggled with the practicalities of restrictions.

“Although legal requirements for mask wearing and social distancing will not be in place, there is strong evidence these measures should still be followed when possible. We must act with caution.”

Blackburn MP Kate Hollern said: “The Prime Minster’s comment he will use whatever means necessary to protect the public from infection ring hollow when he is saying that all restrictions - including mask wearing - will be lifted from July 19. It’s mixed message after mixed message. It’s farcical but also tragic for those who have lost loved ones.”