ESSEX will have new restrictions placed upon it from Saturday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed. 

In a statement to the House of Commons this morning, he said Essex and London will both move into local Covid alert level high. 

>> Follow our live coronavirus blog as Essex moves into 'high alert'

The changes will come into affect from 12.01am on Saturday morning.

It means residents in the Essex County Council area will not be able to meet other households indoors and rule of six still applies in outdoor settings. 

The new rules will not affect Southend or Thurrock, which are unitary local authorities. 

Brentwood Live:

David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, welcomed Matt Hancock’s announcement that the county would be moving to the High covid alert category, “which is clear recognition of the severity of the situation we find ourselves in as a county, and indeed across many parts of the country”.

Brentwood Live:

In a statement, he added: “We think the government has decided correctly, guided by the science and the fact is that the number of cases in Essex is rising exponentially.

“We understand that the move to the High local covid alert level may affect people’s lives and businesses and understand the very strong feelings about this.

Brentwood Live:

"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.

“These are difficult times for individuals, businesses and communities, but I know that as a county we will come together to support and protect one another – as we have done previously – and that acting sooner rather than later to curb the spread of Covid is the right thing to do.”