What will the new coronavirus marshals do?
PUBLISHED: 15:00 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:41 10 September 2020
Picture: Megan Wilman
Coronavirus marshals could soon be patrolling the streets of Norfolk and Waveney to help to enforce strict new rules on social gatherings and encouraging social distancing.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced plans for marshals at Wednesday’s Downing Street press conference as it became clear tougher measures, including a limit of six people for social gatherings, were on the way.
The marshals could serve a similar role to wardens which North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) introduced in nine towns and villages earlier in the year to ensure people were shopping comfortably and safely.
MORE: Towns get ‘coronavirus wardens’ to keep shoppers safe
But how would the new marshals work? Although it is still unclear what role they will perform and what powers they will have, here is what we know so far:
-The marshals will be based in town and city centres
Mr Johnson said the “Covid-secure marshals” would be there to help ensure social distancing as people shop on the high streets.
-They would bolster existing schemes
The prime minster said the marshals would “boost the local enforcement capacity of local authorities”.
-They would help police the ‘rule of six’
The government is making gatherings of more than six people either indoors and outdoors illegal from Monday (September 14). One sector this affect is hospitality, and the marshals could see that the rule is being followed in bars and restaurants. Mr Johnson said: “Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure that their premises remain Covid-secure.”
MORE: Coronavirus rules: How will they affect me?
-No arrest powers
The government has said the marshals will have no formal powers of arrest. They will be able to break up groups of more than six in town centres, but will have to alert police if fines have to be handed out.
-No extra funding
A government spokesman said the marshals would not be employed by the government directly, but by locals councils, and said it would be up to councils to decide how many marshals they will operate.
When asked about funding, the 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 - I’m not aware of anything specific.”
In north Norfolk, the coronavirus wardens, which they called co-ordinators, were also on hand to answer visitors’ questions about social distancing, ensure businesses were ‘Covid secure’.
The council’s environmental protection manager Emily Capps said in July the co-ordinators had been welcomed by the public.
She said: “In market towns and busier seaside resorts we have nine social distancing coordinators and I am managing that group, so far we’ve received some good feedback, although traders have voiced some concerns over decisions which we have listened to, but actually most people think we’re doing a good thing and saying they feel more confident to shop and also much safer.”
Covid-19 cases have climbed from 12.5 per 100,000 people to 19.7 per 100,000 in the UK in the last week - with a particular rise in infections among young people.
Infections are most prevalent among the 19 to 21-year-old age group, with 54 cases per 100,000 people.
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