A new 'stay at home' national lockdown has been announced by the government.
Leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill, said: "Tonight's announcement means that everyone must stay at home, which means only leaving your house or being outside of your home when absolutely necessary, such as when shopping for essential necessities or exercising. School children in Thurrock will continue to receive their education online over the coming weeks.
"This will be a challenging time for many parents who will have to balance working from home and assisting their children with online learning, but it is unfortunately the only course of action available to help to halt the spread of this highly infectious new variant of COVID-19. I welcome the news that those eligible for free school meals will continue to receive this provision whilst children are unable to attend school face-to-face.
"The lockdown will of course also be yet another setback to our local business community, many of whose premises will now remain closed until at least mid-February, and I urge all those eligible to apply for grants or funding available to them during this time.
"I know the lockdown will come as a big disappointment to people who hoped that the arrival of 2021 would see the virus banished, but with the roll out of the vaccine programme there is light at the end of the tunnel. We must work together to protect the most vulnerable in society, including those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and who once more return to shielding.
"As the Prime Minister said, this is a tough and frustrating time and the weeks ahead will be the hardest yet but now, more than ever, we must pull together."
A full list of the new guidance can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home