Tougher restrictions for Essex as Covid status upgraded to ‘High’
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Households in Essex will be banned from mixing indoors as harsher coronavirus measures are introduced this weekend after the county was moved into Tier 2 of the new Covid lockdown categories.
Healthy Secretary Matt Hancock announced today that Essex County Council’s bid for tougher measures had been approved, moving the county into Tier Two of the new three-tier lockdown system.
The county has experienced an exponential rise in Covid-19 infections in recent weeks.
Under second tier measures, residents will be unable to meet socially with other people that they do not live with indoors - including homes, pubs and restaurants.
David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, said: “We think the government has decided correctly and been guided by the science. The fact is that the number of cases in Essex is rising exponentially.
“We understand that the move to the ‘High’ Covid alert level may affect people’s lives and businesses and we understand the very strong feelings about this.
“However, we have a duty of care to the people of Essex, and we firmly believe that this is the best route to minimise disruptions, to save lives - not just for those with the virus, but for other patients as well - and to protect businesses.”
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However, the new measures do not apply to Southend or Thurrock, which are not administered by Essex County Council.
Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, said he would accept the new measures “with great reluctance” - but feared for the impact restrictions would have on Essex’s economy.
He added: “Essex is a county with very different demographics. This is a balancing act between the economy and coronavirus.
Denise Rossiter, Chief Executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: “We are concerned that local politicians have had to request that Essex is moved from the medium Covid level to the high level. Businesses in the county have worked hard to protect their staff, customers and the wider public by adopting suitable protective measures with training for employees to help fight the spread of this virus. They will never knowingly put people at risk. “Government financial support has been helpful but cannot continue indefinitely and these new measures may be the final straw for some businesses who have to cease trading or make staff redundant and we should not be surprised to see unemployment rise in the county. “We urge people to maintain social distancing, wear a face mask when necessary and to wash their hands to help bring infection levels down in Essex.”