Essex County Council News Release
Published: 16 June 2021
Easing of restrictions delayed until Monday 19 July
The government announced yesterday it will be another 4 weeks until we move to the fourth and final step of the roadmap out of lockdown.
There's been a fast increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and the Delta variant is now the dominant strain in the UK.
Step 4 of the roadmap would have removed all limits on social contact. The delay will allow more time to gather data, plus thousands more people will get vaccinated before the easing.
“As a country, we absolutely need to tread a fine line when it comes to the further easing of restrictions, balancing the need to contain the spread of the virus with the wider impact on local businesses and the wider economy," said Cllr Kevin Bentley, Leader of the Council.
“I know the announcement will cause concern amongst residents and businesses alike, particularly those within the hospitality sector. However, I would like to reassure them that we have prepared for such an eventuality and we are here to support them.
"It is vital that the decision to proceed with any further unlocking is based on facts and insight so that we can take the necessary action to keep people safe and well.”
Cllr John Spence, Cabinet Member for Health, said: "The data is very clearly telling us that we need to proceed with caution. I am sure lots of people will be disappointed by the news today. However, the delay is a reminder to us all that the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet over, although the ending of restrictions is on the horizon."
Dr Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health, reiterated the importance of Covid-safe behaviours.
"I cannot emphasise enough the importance of following the rules and getting vaccinated when it is your turn," said Dr Gogarty.
"Everyone’s behaviour is crucial to us managing the spread of the virus. I am urging everyone to follow the guidance, test regularly and get both doses of the vaccine when it’s your turn."
Read more of the reaction to the government announcement on our website.
Capacity limits removed from weddings and wakes
From 21 June, there will be no capacity limits at weddings. You must still socially distance.
There will also be no capacity limits at wakes. Like funerals, the capacity will be determined by how many people can be in the venue while socially distancing.
Other significant life events, such as bar/bat mitzvahs and christenings, will still have a limit of 30 people.
A further £5 million to support businesses
The delay to the unlocking means that many businesses will continue to operate at a reduced capacity.
In preparation of a potential delay, we have already committed another £5 million to the Essex County Council Business Adaptation Grant. It can be used by businesses to make changes to their operations or premises, such as becoming Covid-secure, creating outdoor spaces or moving operations online. The grant will be available throughout the summer months.
Discretionary grants are also still available.
Cllr Lesley Wagland, Cabinet Member for Economic Renewal, Planning and Regeneration, said: “For so many Essex businesses, the difficulties will continue for a month longer, but the end of restrictions is still in sight and above all, we must make sure this is a one-way ticket, not a temporary relaxation before a return to restrictions.
“Grants to help with adaptations and other funding is still available via district, borough and city councils and I would urge businesses to please take advantage of the available support.”
Apply for a grant through your city, district or borough council.
A reminder of the rules
You can meet in groups of 6 or 2 households indoors, or groups of 30 outdoors.
You can make your own choices on close contact, such as hugging your friends and family.
You can stay overnight with people outside of your household. Accommodation businesses are open.
Retail and indoor entertainment venues such as museums, cinemas and children's play areas are all open with Covid-safe measures.
Hospitality venues are open indoors and outdoors, with rules on social contact.
If you live in a care home, you can have up to 5 named visitors.
You can take part in organised indoor and outdoor adult sport.
Read more about the Step 3 restrictions on GOV.UK.
Keep testing at home
Let's not give Covid-19 another chance. If you're seeing friends and relatives, make sure you've tested negative. Regular self-testing is an easy way to protect ourselves, each other and the life we love.
Find a local library or pharmacy to collect self-test kits for your family or order self-test kits to your home on GOV.UK.
Get your jab when you can
Thank you to everyone who has had or booked their Covid-19 vaccine.
If you're worried about getting the vaccine, check out these frequently asked questions from the NHS. They cover the safety of the vaccine, explain the side effects and debunk some of the myths you might have heard.
Find more vaccine information on our website.
Play it safe with hands, face and space
We’re all relying on each other to stay safe. The more of us that do the right things, the better chance we have of keeping Covid-19 away.
So, when you’re hanging out with mates, give them a little space. If you’re heading to your high street, sanitise as you shop. And whenever you're out and about this summer, try and keep your face covered.
Get mental health support
If you or someone you know is struggling, please get help. Find services and resources to support your mental health on our website.