Covid-19 updates to our services from 12 April 2021

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Wash your hands, wear a face covering, stay 2m apart, get tested, get vaccinated

Dear Essex resident,

Thank you for all you have done in observing the difficult lockdown since Christmas. Your action resulted in Essex going from one of the areas with the highest rate nationally to the lowest in the East of England at about half the national average rate.

We have now begun to mix with others which is very welcome. We are all looking forward to more gradual relaxations of restrictions, but we still want to protect each other. Unfortunately it is likely the virus will return, but there is much we can do to prevent this turning into hospital admissions and deaths. So, I have three key asks of you.

Get vaccinated

Firstly, please get vaccinated when you are invited. I would especially urge that if you have been offered a vaccine but not had it, please discuss this with your GP or with the Essex Wellbeing Service on 0300 303 9988. They can help you get vaccinated if that has been difficult for any reason, whether you have been worrying about allergies, side effects or just being able to get to an appointment. I am sure their advice will help you.

Self-test regularly

Secondly, please consider self-testing regularly. I recognise that you may not want to get tested in case you have to miss work and might lose income. To help avoid this, we have developed schemes to try and support you.

Tests can be picked up from participating libraries, pharmacies and test centres or ordered
online to your home so you and your family can do home testing. Testing is especially important if you have school age children or if anyone in your household works with lots of other people. It can help you identify possible infection early and stop the infection getting into the school or workplace. Doing a home test before meeting another family or an older relative can help ensure you do not accidentally spread the virus to those you care about most.

Keep two metres apart

Thirdly, I’d encourage you to think about what personal space means for all of us now. While we are enjoying more hard-earned freedoms, it is important we keep two metres (six feet) from each other. We need to make this a habit. Obviously, we won’t be able to do this all the time but where we can, we should. The virus cannot easily transmit further than two metres so this will keep both you and those around you safe.

Please see the rest of this newsletter for more information including financial support for self-isolation and help with testing. Thank you again for your help and support in what has been a truly terrible time for us all.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Mike Gogarty

Director of Public Health

Essex County Council


Find what you're interested in:


Self-test kits available for collection or delivery

Everyone in England without symptoms can now take free Covid-19 tests twice a week.

You can get self-test kits by:

You may also have the option of getting tested through workplace testing programmes or at schools and colleges.

Please follow the testing instructions to log your result every time. If you need help to book or assistance with a test, call 119.

If you have symptoms or test positive from a self-test kit, you must book another test on GOV.UK to confirm the result or call 119.


Changes to our services during the roadmap out of lockdown

On Monday 5 April, the Prime Minister confirmed that the next step of the roadmap would go ahead as planned from today (Monday 12 April).

Here's what the roadmap means for you and our services.

Step 2: from Monday 12 April

The key rules in step 2 are:

  • rule of 6 or 2 households outdoors but no household mixing indoors
  • keep working from home if you can
  • non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality, leisure facilities and personal care services reopen
  • local overnight stays allowed and self-contained accommodation reopens
  • all children's activities and indoor parent and child groups allowed (up to 15 parents)
  • 30 people at funerals and 15 people at wakes, weddings and receptions
  • international holidays not allowed

Essex libraries reopen

Our libraries are ready to welcome you back. Most are open from 9am to 5.30pm in the week, plus reduced hours on Saturdays. One library in each area is open until 7pm during the week. Check your local library’s opening hours on the Essex Libraries website.

Park and Ride services at Sandon and Colchester restart

Find out more about Sandon Park and Ride or Colchester Park and Ride on the Essex Highways website or follow @essexhighways on Twitter for travel updates.

The Lock Climbing Wall reopens

The best view comes after the hardest climb – find out for yourself at The Lock Climbing Wall. Book on The Lock Climbing Wall website.

ACL Essex has restarted community learning

ACL Essex started welcoming back learners and staff from 8 March. Its online courses are open to everyone, from arts and crafts to health and wellbeing.

Country parks and heritage locations are open

Visit a country park or outdoor heritage location with up to five friends. Uncover all the secret spots around the county on the Explore Essex website.

Find outdoor attractions and staycations in Essex

Browse activities, attractions and local accommodation on the Visit Essex website. Remember, you can only book an overnight trip with your household.

Join a local fitness group or sports club

Find a new fitness group or sports club on the Active Essex website.

Funerals and wedding information

Visit the births, deaths and ceremonies section of our website for funerals and wedding information.

Step 3: Monday 17 May or after

The earliest step 3 could happen is Monday 17 May. The key rules in step 3 are:

  • rule of 6 or 2 households indoors and 30-people limit outdoors
  • keep working from home if you can
  • indoor hospitality reopens
  • organised indoor adult sport restarts
  • remaining outdoor entertainment and performances restart
  • indoor entertainment such as museums, cinemas and children's play areas reopen
  • some large events allowed with capacity limits
  • overnight stays with people outside of your household allowed
  • 30 people allowed at funerals, wakes, weddings and receptions

Chelmer Valley Park and Ride service restarts

Find out more about Chelmer Valley Park and Ride on the Essex Highways website or follow @essexhighways on Twitter for travel updates.

Step 4: Monday 21 June or after

The earliest step 4 could happen is Monday 21 June. The key rules in step 4 are:

  • all legal limits on social contact end
  • no legal limits on funerals, wakes, weddings or receptions
  • larger events restart
  • nightclubs reopen

Visit GOV.UK for more information about the roadmap out of lockdown.


Getting the vaccine

Please get vaccinated when you are invited. The NHS or your GP will let you know when it's your turn to have the vaccine.

If you have concerns, talk to your GP or the Essex Wellbeing Service on 0300 303 9988.

Visit the Essex Covid-19 vaccine website from the NHS for more information.

Beware of vaccination scams. Don't respond to any invitations for a vaccination unless you're sure it's sent from the NHS or your GP. You will never have to pay for the vaccine.


Support for residents and businesses

Apply for a self-isolation support payment

You may be eligible for a £500 support payment if you need to self-isolate. Local councils have worked together to make it easier for you to get the payment.

The government says that you must self-isolate if:

  • you have symptoms that may be caused by Covid-19, including if you are waiting for a test
  • you've had a positive Covid-19 test result (whether or not you have symptoms)
  • you currently live in the same household as someone with Covid-19 symptoms, or with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19

Find out more and apply for a payment if you are self-isolating.

Apply for a business support grant

We’ve committed more funding to support local businesses during the pandemic. Visit our business support section to find out about discretionary grants and the Essex Business Adaptation Grant.

Health and wellbeing support

If you or someone you know is struggling, there are services that can help. 

Find health and wellbeing services on our website.

Support for children and families

There is help available if your child is finding it hard to adjust or if your family is going through a difficult time.

Find support for children and families on our website.