TOUGHER coronavirus restrictions in Essex could be in place for six weeks, according to public health bosses.

The new Covid-19 restrictions will be reviewed after four weeks.

But Essex County Council director of public health Dr Mike Gogarty said infections “won’t flatten for six weeks”, meaning the new high level of restrictions could be in place until at least December.

Essex will receive £3million from the Government to mitigate the impact of being in the ‘high alert’ tier.

The warning comes as county council health boss John Spence addressed around 150 councillors across the county over Zoom explaining County Hall’s action plan.

The meeting saw Dr Gogarty and Mr Spence answer questions and give a presentation of the latest data.

Dr Gogarty said: “Not mixing households will reduce the R number by between 0.1 and 0.2. Our R rate is 1.27.

“We can bring the R rate down to 0.92 by not mixing households and working from home where we can.”

He added: “The virus is everywhere. It’s in the community, hospitals and schools.

“With doing this now, the requirement for shielding won’t be needed. If we do it now, if it will be over quicker.

“If we left it alone, in two or three weeks, the Secretary of State will move us up.

“We’re at a higher level to where Manchester was a month ago.”

The presentation revealed figures from the latest modelling which show 11 of the 12 local authorities in Essex are now in an epidemic phase.

Data shows the bulk of coronavirus cases in Essex are among young people, but more cases are now being reported in the over-50s.

Mr Spence added: “It’s about changing people’s behaviour.

“The behaviour of our residents will prevent us from moving us into Tier 3.

“I’m as sick of this as anybody else.

“The restrictions are painful, but modest. This will be reviewed every four weeks.”

He also revealed the council will be handed £3million by the Government as a result of the move to the high alert tier, but added: “This has never been about money. No time was money ever mentioned.”

Dr Gogarty added: “Once we see a reduction in hospital admissions, I will have no problem in writing to the Secretary of State and telling him we have done our job.

“The modelling shows we can be out of it by Christmas, but there’s so many ifs, buts, and maybes.

“The very worst that can happen is that it isn’t effective but the evidence shows we can do this as a county.”

The Braintree district has the lowest infection rate in Essex – less than half that of Tendring on the coast which has the highest.