Text of the comments made by Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, on 24 July 2020.
Blackburn with Darwen and Luton councils are doing excellent work with their local communities to address an increase in coronavirus cases and we continue to work collectively with them. Strong community engagement, major boosts in testing and increased support are already underway to manage outbreaks in these areas.
The latest data shows the incidence of COVID-19 in these areas is higher than in other areas of the country, and we have today agreed to support both local authorities to pause the further easement of lockdown measures in these areas. This means indoor gyms, swimming pools and other sport and exercise facilities will not reopen in Luton or Blackburn with Darwen on 25 July.
I appreciate this will be disappointing for many people and some businesses in the area but we are in complete agreement with local leaders that the priority must be to protect local residents by stopping the spread of this virus.
I have every faith in the local leaders’ ability to help their areas return to normal as soon as possible and in local communities coming together during this time.