BRAINTREE Council’s leader insists the county has to try and halt the increase in coronavirus cases.

Graham Butland is among a number of leading figures to back plans to move Essex into the ‘high’ Covid alert level.

County Hall has asked the Government to move much of the region into the higher category after seeing a rise in coronavirus cases.

Bosses say taking early action will give the county the best possible chance to avoid a devastating second wave of infections.

It comes despite scepticism from residents in the district, who have pointed out the Braintree region has one of the lowest infection rates in the county.

But council leader Mr Butland, who has held discussions with the county council, says there is a compelling case for more restrictions.

He said: “In recent days Essex’s Director of Public Health and Wellbeing has seen a sharp increase in cases in Essex which we are all concerned about.

"Cases in our district are also increasing.

"To flatten the curve of infection before it puts more of a strain on our hospitals and economy, Essex County Council is applying to the Secretary of State to be placed into the new ‘High level’ banding of Covid-19 restrictions.

"We will have to wait and see if the Secretary of State will agree to this way forward.

"We know that this is an unsettling time for businesses and families and there isn’t a perfect solution.

"But the director of public health put forward a compelling case for these measures which could stem the increase and it is something collectively we have to try."

The move to the high Covid alert level would mean a ban on household mixing inside would be enforced in Essex.

The rule of six would apply in outside environments and residents would be urged to reduce travel, particularly on public transport.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to make a decision on the request to move Essex's alert level up in the coming days.