Parts of Essex could be placed on high alert Covid in a bid to curb the spread of the virus across the county.

It comes as the Prime Minister launched a three-tier system of local alert levels for England, with each area set to medium, high and very high alert.

At the moment, the number of cases across Essex would see the county – and every local authority within it – placed on ‘medium’ alert, which would mean to change to the restrictions already in place such as the Rule of Six and the 10pm curfew.

However, it is understood leaders from authorities across the county are drawing up a joint request for Essex to be placed on ‘high’ alert in a bid to curb the rising spread of the virus before it gets out of control.

The pre-emptive move would see a ban on mixing households but no hospitality sector closures.

The move is being led by Essex County Council, which is not responsible for governing Southend, however a spokesman for Southend Council said the authority is aware of the proposal coming from Essex County Council but no final decision has been made.


David Finch, Essex County Council leader, is due to give a statement at a full council meeting this morning.

The PM’s announcement came as Basildon became the worst-hit area of Essex, with 63 cases per 100,000 people, according to the latest data. Two additional coronavirus deaths were also recorded at Basildon Hospital yesterday.

Rochford’s coronavirus rate has doubled, with 37 cases per 100,000 compared to 18 the week before. This compares to Southend’s rate which sits at 40 cases per 100,000.

Council leaders have revealed a lack of communication with Government on the the new plans. As the PM stood to deliver his speech in the House of Commons yesterday, bosses at Basildon and Southend councils said they had heard “absolutely nothing”.

Gavin Callaghan, the leader of Basildon Council, said: “At present, councils haven’t been given any firm details by the government.


“It is continuing to rise and if we were to do nothing, then 75 per cent of intensive care beds in Essex would be filled with Covid patients in four to five weeks’ time.”

“We cannot risk anyone who falls ill, not having access to a ICU bed, treatment or ventilator.

“So we will need to go again in supporting our brilliant NHS.”

Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, added: “I know as much as anyone who reads the paper. With what happened in the north with council leaders not knowing until five minutes before, it is extremely worrying. I would hate for that happen in Southend.”

“The issue is when we find out about new restrictions overnight and five minutes before they come into force. That was going on over the summer.

“I wouldn’t rule out tougher restrictions but people need to follow the guidelines.”

Mr Johnson told MPs that the coming weeks and months would “test the mettle” of the country as it faced a second wave of Covid-19 cases.

Under the new arrangements:

– The medium alert level will cover most of England and will consist of the current national measures, including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew.

>> LIVE UPDATES: Bid for Essex to be put into ‘High’ Covid alert level

– The high alert level reflects interventions in many areas subject to local restrictions, preventing mixing between different households indoors.

Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into this category, as well as Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire and a small area of High Peak.

– The very high alert level will mean, at a minimum, the closure of pubs and bars and a ban on social mixing indoors and in private gardens.

Areas in the top tier will be able to impose extra restrictions.