VAST parts of Essex will move into Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions from midnight tonight after a surge in infections, particularly in the south and west of the county.
The county will be carved up with Southend, Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford and Thurrock all plunged into Tier 3.
The areas will join Brentwood, Chelmsford, Epping Forest, Harlow, Braintree and Maldon in moving.
However Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring will remain in Tier 2 but will be reviewed by the government on Wednesday.
The move came after a last-ditch attempt from county hall bosses to keep the whole of Essex in Tier 2, based on the overall infection rate, rather than focusing on rates in individual districts or boroughs.
David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, said: “I am of course very disappointed with this news.
“We have worked tirelessly to reduce the spread of infection in our county, but unfortunately the numbers continue to go in the wrong direction, especially in those areas that the government have decided should move to tier 3. We know that for these areas, moving to Tier 3 will inevitably impact businesses, particularly in the hospitality trade at what would normally be their busiest time of the year.
“We will lobby the Government to ensure our Essex businesses have all the support they need, during this very challenging time.
“Ultimately it is in our hands to stem the spread of this dreadful virus. The greatest gift anyone can give this Christmas is keeping yourself and your family safe.”
He added: “No-one wants to see a further rise in cases after the holidays. Please, follow the restrictions relevant to your area, work from home and of course, remember – hands, face and space.”
Under Tier 3, people must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody they do not live with, or who is not their support bubble, including private gardens and most outdoor venues.
Hospitality venues such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must close apart from to offer takeaways, as will hotels, B&Bs, campsites and guest houses.
Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must also close including trampolining parks, soft play centres, bowling alleys, skating rinks, cinemas, theatres and concert halls.
Worship venues will remain open, but people must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of their household or support bubble.
Weddings and funerals can go ahead, but with restrictions. 15 people can attend a wedding ceremony, however, wedding receptions are not allowed. For funerals, 30 people can attend and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events.
Under Tier 3 restrictions, residents are advised to reduce the number of journeys made where possible and avoid travelling outside of the area they live, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.