The leader of Thurrock Council has promised he will “resist” any calls for a voluntary increase on coronavirus restrictions as Essex County Council is set to be placed on ‘high’ alert.

Councils bosses across Essex have been locked in urgent discussions after it was revealed leaders at Essex County Council had voluntarily asked the Government to increase their alert status over Covid-19 to ‘high’, putting them on the same level as places like London and Manchester.

Moving from Tier 1 - medium alert - to Tier 2 - high alert - means a ban on households mixing indoors, including in pubs, while the Rule of Six will still apply outdoors.

Southend and Thurrock Councils, which operate independently from the Essex County Council, have resisted calls to make a similar request to the Government with Thurrock Council leader Rob Gledhill telling a Cabinet meeting he will resist any voluntary increase.

Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday night, Mr Gledhill said: “Essex County Council made and applications to Government to voluntarily increase its covid alert status to high and to be subject to tier 2 covid restrictions.

“This would mean residents would not be able to meet anyone outside of their households or bubble in any indoor setting such as pub, home or restaurant and that they should reduce their journeys and avoid using public transport where they can.

“I am sure that everyone recognises what an impact this would have on certain businesses - especially hospitality and entertainment venues - and what it would mean for families in different homes across Essex who wouldn’t be able to mix unless they are part of the same bubble, and it would restrict travel to and from those places.

“I am sure we can all see the impact this may well have on those who already feel isolated and alone as well as the impact it will have on residents’ mental wellbeing.

“I spoke to the secretary of state for health over the weekend and outlined why Thurrock should not be subject to these restrictions requested by Essex County Council and I will continue to resist any call for voluntary increases or restrictions on our residents.”

The comments mark the second time that Mr Gledhill has been publicly critical of the county council for its decision.

On Tuesday he said he “cannot believe” county bosses had volunteered to be placed on a higher tier, despite not having infection rates which reflect that level of restriction.

He accused the county council not fully considering the evidence of the impact this could have on the people of Thurrock.

Following Essex’s request, parts of the county are expected to be placed on tier 2 from Saturday night.