County Hall has confirmed it wants to put tighter restrictions in place across large parts of Essex to lower the coronavirus infection rate.

Essex County Council says it has applied to the Secretary of State for Health to be placed into the new ‘High level’ banding of Covid-19 restrictions.

This would mean a ban on people mixing with anyone outside their household in an indoor environment.

The rule of six remains in place outside.

Under the Government's new three-tier lockdown system, which is based on infection rates, Essex is currently in the 'medium' category.

But the county’s Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, Dr Mike Gogarty, has called for tougher restrictions amid concerns about the rise in cases in Essex.

Bosses say the majority of cases are in the younger age groups but rates are now increasing in older age groups as well.

Read more:

They also say hospital admissions are rising, and deaths are also now being reported.

Council leader David Finch said: "By acting now, we can hope to stem this increase, limiting the time that we are in these enhanced restrictions and – above all – avoiding further escalation into ‘Very High’.

"All of this will limit the damage to the economy; a healthy economy is critical to everyone having better lives in future.

"We already have one of the best track and trace operations in the country, but we will also be aiming to push its performance still higher alongside strengthening enforcement capacity and visibility.

"Making these painful decisions now will, we hope, bring dividends later."

County Hall's health boss John Spence 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.”

Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex’s Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, added: “Across the county we have moved from gradual to exponential growth with number of cases rising exponentially.

“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.”

The request to place Essex in the 'high' lockdown category will go to the Secretary of State today (Tuesday 13 October).

County Hall says it has the support of leaders across the area, along with the Essex MPs and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

Large parts of northern England have been placed into the 'high' Covid alert level, including much of Greater Manchester, parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Nottingham.