First Covid Marshalls seen on UK streets in bid to stop the spread

The first Covid Marshalls in England have been pictured on the streets as Boris Johnson announced the move in a statement to the public from Downing Street this week.

The marshalls are tasked with ensuring people follow the rules – such as wearing face coverings in shops and takeaways.

They will also enforce local authority guidance – such as using a one-way system on pavements.

They will hand out masks and handgel to keep everyone safe.

Marshalls have already been deployed in Leeds and Cornwall, and the Government is encouraging other local authorities to hire marshals or use volunteers and existing council employees with money from their own budgets, reports The Mirror.

During a recent patrol in Camborne, a marshal named Dan told CornwallLive: “So far, most visitors have been really co-operative and do their best to follow the guidelines and respect social distancing.

“I especially like helping reassure some of our older residents. I’ve got to know the local businesses and it’s great to know they’re all really keen to do what they can to make their customers and staff feel comfortable.”

The Prime Minister had said the marshals would “boost the local enforcement capacity” as he announced new rules designed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

However, 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.

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

He said: “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.

“Are they for parks, are they for enclosed areas? I just don’t know, no-one knows.

“The Prime Minister told everyone yesterday as if we all fully understood it.”

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

A marshal named Dan on a recent patrol in Camborne in Cornwall (Image: Cornwall Live/BPM MEDIA)

“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.

“Even if marshals were rolled out in great numbers, they will not have enforcement powers so it is important that residents do not expect councils to be able to act when they cannot.

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.”

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