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Government agrees extra Covid-19 restrictions for Essex

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has agreed to extra Covid-19 restrictions in Essex – including towns and villages within miles of Sudbury – from Saturday (Oct 17).

In a House of Commons statement on Thursday (Oct 15) he confirmed he was backing a request from the county council to impose the measures, which bar households from mixing indoors, including restaurants and pubs.

At the same time, London will also move from the 'medium' alert Tier 1 to the 'high' alert Tier 2 under the Government's new three-tiered system of local Covid-19 alert levels. Suffolk remains in Tier 1 on medium alert.

Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock. Picture by Mark Westley (42715820)
Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock. Picture by Mark Westley (42715820)

Cllr David Finch, leader of Conservative-controlled Essex County Council, said: "We welcome the Government's announcement today regarding Essex moving to the 'high' local 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.

"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. 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.

Cllr David Finch (42715828)
Cllr David Finch (42715828)

"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."

Every area of England now falls into three categories: medium (Tier 1), high (Tier 2) or very high (Tier 3), depending on the local rate of infection.

People in Tier 1 areas must not meet in a group of more than six, indoors or outdoors, and pubs, bars and restaurants must close by 10pm.

In Tier 2, residents must not meet socially in private homes, pubs or restaurants with people they don't live with. Families and friends may still meet outdoors, but only in a group of up to six.

For those in Tier 3 areas, there is a ban on meeting socially indoors or in private gardens or pub gardens with anybody who is not part of your household. People may still meet in parks, beaches, countryside or forests, as long as they are not in a group of more than six.

Only pubs and bars "serving substantial meals" can open and alcohol can be served only as part of a meal.

Further measures restrict residents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where a "circuit breaker" limited lockdown has been announced.

Will this restrict how much you are able to see family and friends living over the Essex border? Email suffolk@iliffepublishing.co.uk

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