A council has said the decision to move Essex to the 'high' tier was not taken lightly.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced in a statement to the House of Commons that Essex will move into local Covid alert level high.

The changes will come into affect from 12.01am on Saturday morning.

It means residents in the Essex County Council area will not be able to meet other households indoors and rule of six still applies in outdoor settings.

Leader of Maldon District Council Cllr Elaine Bamford said the decision was made to ultimately 'save lives'.

She said: "This decision was not taken lightly by any Essex leader and was based on professional medical advice to prevent escalation of the virus and the possible consequence of overwhelming hospitals with Covid 19 patients.

"Ultimately, of course, to save lives.

"The concern was leaving action too late even though the evidence of infections may not be as high as other areas of the UK.

"The importance of following the Government guidelines cannot emphasised enough, particularly with regard to using face coverings, although it is appreciate some are exempt, keeping two metres away from others not in your household or support bubble and frequently washing hands.

"I am confident residents and businesses of Maldon District will be responsible and our Council officers and members will continue to help and support you all, as much as we are able."