People in Hertfordshire are being urged to "act now" to avoid the county moving to a high alert level.

Hertfordshire’s Local Resilience Forum (LRF) is calling on the whole community to play their part to slow the spread of coronavirus in the county.

It comes as London and most of Essex will move into a Tier 2 lockdown from the early hours of Saturday.

This means people living in these areas cannot socialise with people they do not live with, in indoor settings like homes, pubs, and restaurants, unless they are part of a support bubble.

Hertfordshire as a whole has been placed as a medium-alert area (Tier 1) in the Government’s new system of local COVID-19 alert levels.

“Despite this, we have seen a significant rise in positive cases of coronavirus in our county over the last 10 days and the situation here remains serious. There is no room for complacency,” said Darryl Keen, Director of Community Protection, Chief Fire Officer and chair of the strategic coordination group of the LRF.

“I’m pleading with everyone to act now to avoid our county moving to high-risk status for which there will be stricter, tougher measures introduced. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to keep the virus at bay.”

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Hertfordshire’s LRF – a partnership of over 60 organisations including the emergency services, local councils, health services and volunteers, which plans, trains and responds to emergencies together – has been working to coordinate the county’s approach to COVID-19.

Hertfordshire Constabulary Chief Superintendent Matt Nicholls said: “The vast majority of people have been playing their part by following government guidelines, particularly on face-coverings, social-distancing, the ‘rule of six’, and self-isolation where necessary. Now is the time for everyone to be even more disciplined to help us control the spread of the virus.

“Our police officers continue to be out in communities - engaging, explaining and encouraging people to act responsibly and follow coronavirus rules. We will take enforcement action if necessary. We’ve increased targeted patrols; working in partnership with local authorities, licensing authorities and businesses to ensure the rules are being followed.”

Mr Keen added: “We still have a limited window of opportunity to stay in control of the spread of the virus in Hertfordshire, if you keep playing your part, we can all stay safe in Hertfordshire together.”

While cases are increasing in the county, the figures for Hertfordshire have been skewed due to a testing error.

For the last couple of weeks or so, Hertfordshire has, on paper, seen a dramatic rise in cases – but many of them have not actually been in the county.

The director of public health in Hertfordshire, Jim McManus, has previously confirmed that Hertfordshire is among those hit by a nationwide testing error involving university students.

He said: “There is a nationwide issue with some students’ positive coronavirus tests being attributed to their permanent home address (in Hertfordshire) rather than their term-time address, and this is undoubtedly having an impact on the reported figures for Hertfordshire.

“We are still analysing the data and working closely with Public Health England to understand the exact effect on our local figures.

“It is important to remember that even excluding students, the number of cases is continuing to rise across all age groups and areas of Hertfordshire and it’s important that we all play our part to control the spread of coronavirus.”