ESSEX should either be put under the strictest lockdown measures possible or left alone for now, the MP for Harwich and North Essex has said.

Essex County Council will apply today to move the county into the 'high' Covid alert level following a sharp rise in cases over the last week.

But veteran MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said moving to the 'high' alert level, or tier two of the system, was not worth doing.

Instead he said County Hall should consider moving the county to the highest level - 'very high' - which would act as a "local circuit breaker"and help nip case numbers in the bud.

He said: "The case numbers in Essex are still relatively low but we have seen an 82 per cent increase over the past seven days.

"We are slightly above the national average for case numbers. Tendring is particularly bad at the moment.

"What I am saying is it is an either or situation. Either we wait or we go for a stricter lockdown.

"The evidence says tier two damages businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, and there is not much support from the Government and it does not hit the spread of the virus enough.

"I would go for tier three and knock it on the head now.

"I think it is a very difficult judgement but I am saying do not do half measures which do not knock the cases on the head and hurt the economy."

Sir Bernard went on to praise Essex County Council for taking the decisive action and looking into further measures in the hopes of stopping the virus growing further in Essex.

He said: "The county council is approaching this very responsibly and I hope it gives residents confidence whatever happens in Essex the decisions are not being made by people in Whitehall."