MOST private hire vehicles have stoppef operating in Blackburn with Darwen borough indefinitely.

The move follows a meeting of proprietors this afternoon over concerns of coronavirus.

Most black hackney cabs are understood to have stopped plying the trade on the borough's streets because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

But Mill Hill Private Hire will continue to operate 'to provide essential transport for NHS Staff and key workers who need to get to and from work and the general public who need to go out for basic necessities, appointments and work."

Qasim Khan, owners of Matrix Private Hire of Higher Barn Street in Blackburn, said: "A meeting of private hire firm owners this afternoon decided to stop operating.

"The black taxi cabs are already off the streets.

"This is about falling numbers of customers and drivers.

"We have been thinking about this for two or three days because of the health risk from coronavirus.

"Drivers just do not know who is going to get in the car next.

"The owners will review the position in three weeks."

Cllr Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen Council's highways boss, said: "This was inevitable given the circumstances."

A statement from Mill Hill Private Hire Directors said:"We are not being irresponsible as we provide vital NHS patient transport.   The NHS is stretched to the limit and we will carry on trying to help as much as possible.

"All our drivers have been issued with gloves, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitisers.   Vehicle handles and surfaces are wiped down prior to each journey."