The relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions has been paused in Luton and Blackburn with Darwen after an increase in cases, as the country faces the prospect of further local lockdowns.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has said: "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."
Both areas have been categorised as an ‘area of intervention', and will receive support to engage with high-risk groups and sectors and to help increase the effectiveness of testing and tracing at a regional level.
Leicester became the first area in the UK to be placed under an extended period of lockdown on 30 June. While some restrictions in the city have begun to ease, hospitality businesses remain unable to open almost a month on.
The government has since announced it has no plans to offer additional support to operators in the city.