New coronavirus restrictions in Epping and Essex won’t be enforced until next week at the earliest, according to council bosses.

Essex County Council confirmed on Tuesday (October 13) that it is requesting for the county to move into the new ‘high’ alert branding of Covid-19 restrictions.

The request went to the Secretary of State and had the support of leaders from the county council’s area, along with the county’s MPs and Police, Fire and Crime commissioner.

The county council says that within a maximum of two weeks, the county will have reached the thresholds of Tier 2 anyway, and that asking for it now will soften the curve and avoid deeper restrictions later on.

Currently, Essex falls under the ‘medium’ alert level in the Prime Minister’s new three-tier system of local alerts in England, which means it follows national measures including the rule of six and a 10pm curfew.

However, the county’s Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, Dr Mike Gogarty has advised cases will continue to accelerate unless urgent action is taken and a move to ‘High’ from the current ‘Medium’ level is made sooner rather than later.

By being placed in a ‘high’ alert, new restrictions would be imposed including a ban of the mixing of households indoors.

This follows as Essex has seen a significant increase in the number of cases, and rates in “nearly all districts” are rising.

Cllr Chris Whitbread, leader of Epping District Council, said: "We need both to look ahead and across the whole system.

"The advice from our Director of Public Health is compelling – that without action now, we can expect to see continuing doubling of rates week after week, and these increases will be followed by on-going growth in hospital admissions and, most horribly of all, deaths.

"It is critical that we enable the hospitals and the NHS as a whole not just to cope with Covid, but to avoid yet further backlogs in other aspects of critical care."

The district council leader continued: "Across the county we have moved from gradual to exponential growth with number of cases doubling roughly every 1-to-2 weeks.

"We want act now to minimise the impact on the public health and the economy and by doing so we believe we can shorten the period of enhanced restrictions."

Leader of Basildon Council, Gavin Callaghan, revealed in a livestream on Tuesday that “it is not likely” any restriction across the county would come into affect until “next week or early the week after, if they were accepted”.

He said while he would rather no restrictions being imposed, the county would “not be able to cope” with the rise of cases without it.

Essex leader Cllr Finch believed this would make the county a “pioneer for proactive prevention” by swiftly reacting to the growth of cases.

And while most Essex leaders have backed the call, Thurrock council leader, Cllr Rob Gledhill, said the plans could be overly cautious to parts of Essex less hit by the pandemic - and the move could cause harm on the wellbeing of residents and businesses.

He added: "I am certainly not going to impose them voluntarily."

Southend Council has also said it will not request to move its Tier.

If the county were to be placed in the ‘high’ alert Tier 2, then Essex would be just a tier away from the toughest restrictions which means at a minimum, the closure of pubs and bars and a ban of social mixing indoors and in private gardens.

But Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, said he believes the base measures on the ‘very high’ tier is not enough by itself, and he hopes local authorities will bring in additional measures.