BUSINESSES in Southend reported a jump in trade over the weekend with some comparing it to “a summer’s day” as much of Essex moved into ‘High’ Covid alert.

The additional rules mean people in the Essex County Council area cannot mix with households indoors.

But the restrictions do not apply in either Southend or Thurrock.

However, under the rules people who come to Southend still have to abide by the restrictions in place where they live.

Garry Lowen, owner of the Gleneagles Guesthouse, and his staff were asking customers where they had come from.

He said: “The restrictions didn’t stop people coming.

“We’re doing it on trust. We’re taking people at face value and not asking for evidence.

“People were really understanding. It almost felt like a summers day in turnover. We just need the sun to keep shining.

“We hedged our bets and set up tables inside and out.

“We still have blankets and hot water bottles available for those sitting outside.

“One member of staff was praised by a customer for the way they handled the situation.”

Controversy continues to surround Essex County Council’s request to move parts of the county into the ‘high’ Covid alert level, as Kerry Smith, deputy leader of Basildon Council, slammed County Hall for, what he called, a lack of consultation.

He claimed county councillors were not able to question or raise concerns over the plan before it was too late. Mr Smith said: “There was a lack of democracy.

“Councillors were told in an executive statement. You can’t respond to that.

“There should have been an emergency meeting where all the councillors can raise their hand. It’s not acceptable.

“They haven’t gone through the democratic process. It’s like a dictatorship.”

David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, said: “All political group leaders were informed in advance and supported the request to move to ‘High’ local Covid alert status.

“The leaders of the 12 district, borough and city councils in Essex were consulted and unanimously supported and Essex MPs were also consulted.

“Time was very much of the essence in order to act swiftly to stem the tide of infections.

“By acting swiftly, we hope to limit the time that we are in these enhanced restrictions and – above all – avoid further escalation into ‘Very High’. All of this will limit the impact on businesses, who we want to support.”