WITHAM’S MP insists everyone has a role to play to ensure people stick to social distancing guidelines and prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Home Secretary Priti Patel made the call as the new restrictions on social gatherings came into force on Monday.

Government rules now mean no more than six people are allowed to meet either indoors or outdoors.

It comes amid a surge of coronavirus cases across the UK which has led to fears about a second spike in infections in the autumn.

Speaking about the new restrictions on gatherings and how they will be enforced, Ms Patel admitted the Government is relying on the public to ensure people follow the latest rules, as well as the police.

She did, however, admit it was a “personal choice” for people to report anyone they see breaching the rules.

Ms Patel told Sky News: “I’m rarely at home but if I saw something that I thought was inappropriate then, quite frankly, I would call the police.

“It’s not dobbing in neighbours, it’s all about us taking personal responsibility.”

She added: “Anyone that is effectively defying the rules, they will be helping to spread coronavirus.

“That is not a good thing and obviously we all have a role to play.

“We’re all taking personal responsibility, we all have to be conscientious to one another.”

The latest figures from Public Health England show there have now been 546 positive coronavirus tests carried out in the Braintree district since the pandemic began in March.

The region’s infection rate of two per 100,000 people is the second lowest in Essex and the total number of deaths linked to the virus has remained at 121 for more than a month.

However, concerns have been raised about a spike in infections in the neighbouring Uttlesford district, which saw 25 cases recorded last week.

Scientists said they have been unable to find the source of the spike.

But Essex County Council’s director of public health Mike Gogarty has rubbished suggestions it may have come from Stansted Airport.

He said: “There is no link in these figures to Stansted Airport. The presence of the airport does not particularly impact on the district, as most airport workers are not Uttlesford residents.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and respond appropriately if the situation changes.

“The most important thing for residents to remember is to adhere to social distancing, to book a test if you experience symptoms and to isolate if you are identified as a contact of a positive case.

“Unless people isolate and get tested we will see a strong resurgence of the virus and will be back in lockdown.”

The infection rate in Uttlesford has since reduced from last week and now stands at 6.6 cases per 100,000 people.

In the Essex County Council region, the infection rate stands at 7.7 and latest figures say 6,316 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed since March.