How to become a Covid marshal in Sheffield as infection rate continues to rise

“Covid-secure marshals” announced as part of a plan to enforce stricter rules on social gatherings will have no formal powers and must be paid for by local authorities, the Government has said.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 9:40 am
Customers chat as they drink their takeaway draught beer in plastic cups outside a pub (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a press conference on Wednesday the marshals would “boost the local enforcement capacity” as he announced new rules designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

But the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said they will not be given enforcement powers in new legislation banning people in England from meeting in groups of more than six from Monday.

Marshals have already been deployed by Leeds City Council and Cornwall Council, the Government said.

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Other local authorities will now be “encouraged” to hire marshals, or use volunteers and existing council employees, with money from their own budgets, a MHCLG spokeswoman told the PA news agency on Thursday.

She said they would probably wear high-visibility clothing to “support members of the public in one-way systems and remind them of guidelines”.

Other tasks could be to “give out masks and hand sanitiser in public places,” she added.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said rank-and-file officers have been left “absolutely baffled” by the announcement.

He told PA: “Any help is good help but what I’d like to understand is what actually is their role, what are we asking them to do?

“Because if they don’t actually have any powers, you know what Joe Public will do very quickly. When the stick needs to be wielded then you need to have the ability to wield it.

He added: “It won’t make any difference to enforcement if you don’t have the ability to enforce.

“If this increases the ability to enforce then it helps with enforcement, but if they don’t have any powers to issue tickets to enforce.”

Councillor Nesil Caliskan, chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “This announcement has caused confusion among councils who need urgent clarity from the Government on any extra resources and details on how it should work on the ground.

“It is right that councils will be able to choose whether marshals are the best way to manage COVID-19 risks in their local areas.

“However, without additional funding to support this proposal, many councils are likely to have to prioritise other activity.

Downing Street suggested no extra funding would be made available for marshals.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “So far, councils have I think been using their own staff or they have been volunteers.

“Obviously we have provided funding to councils in general as part of the Covid response but I’m not aware of anything specific.”

An MHCLG spokeswoman added: “We are encouraging the introduction of Covid-secure marshals to help support our high streets and public spaces, making sure that people feel safe to enjoy them.

“Some areas of the country have already introduced marshals to support the public in following the guidelines in a friendly way and we will be working with local authorities to see where else they are needed. We will be setting out further details in due course.”

Some websites are already advertising for Covid marshals. Duties listed include maintaining social distance, managing queues and explaining coronavirus restrictions.