A SURGE in Covid cases is being linked to one gathering where people failed to observe social distancing.

The Government is set to make an announcement today as to whether it will remove the last of the restrictions on June 21, socalled Freedom Day.

The final stage of lifting restrictions would see all legal limits on social contact removed. Nightclubs would reopen, and restrictions on theatre performances, weddings and other events would also be removed.

But cases in Maldon have skyrocketed as the district became the most infected in Essex.

The area once had to lowest Covid rates in the country.

Now the infection rate stands at 33.9 per 100,000 people as 22 new cases have been recorded in the past seven days.

This recent rise is attributed to a specific gathering, where attendees “did not observe social distancing with a lot of hugging and close contact”.

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Essex County Council has warned cases will continue to rise over the coming days across Essex, particularly between peopled aged 19 to 39.

Rates have also risen in north Essex as Colchester recorded 26 new cases in the past seven days and now has an infection rate of 13.4.

In Tendring, the rate stands at 8.2 per 100,000 people and 12 new cases have been recorded in the same time frame

A spokesperson from the county council said: “The situation in Maldon was caused by a gathering where people did not observe social distancing with a lot of hugging and close contact.

“This has led to spread within that group and sadly there is now some evidence of spread more widely in the people of Maldon.

“It is essential that lessons are learned and that we all recognise the virus, through the Delta variant is more infectious than ever and we must continue to observe safe social distancing wherever we can.

“This is critical in Essex at the moment as we want to try and keep our rates as low as we can until we are clear of the effectiveness of the vaccine on the Delta variant.”

The final stage of lockdown lifting hangs in the balance as concerns spread of the Delta variant, first identified in India and now dominant in the UK, leading to some scientists calling for a delay to ending lockdown.

The variant, which is far more transmissible than the Alpha variant, has been identified in several areas of Essex including Colchester and Tendring,