New Covid marshals to check on pubs, restaurants and weddings to check rules are followed

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 A notice advising people to wear face masks seen at the doorway of a store in London. Members of the public wearing protective face masks as they shop in Central London as further lockdown measures are proposed for the capital later this week. The UK government is preparing for a possible second nationwide lockdown to fight the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Councils have been handed £30million to employ covid marshals who will check coronavirus regulations are being followed and report back. (Getty)

Covid marshals will be sent out to monitor night-life areas, businesses and even weddings, equipped with radios and potentially body cameras so they can report back to councils and police on any breaches of coronavirus regulations.

The government has allocated £30million to councils for the introduction of the marshals, who are split into two ‘types’. One will take on tasks like cleaning touch points and handing out face coverings, as well as guiding people through one-way systems and busy exit and entry points.

The second, ‘Type 2’, will monitor businesses to check they are complying with coronavirus rules and report them to councils and police where necessary.

They will also be sent out to busy night-life areas to encourage social distancing, according to guidance issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The guidance suggests that the marshals should be provided with PPE as well as hi-vis jackets and radio systems and one council has already issued them with body cameras.

Watch: Will Covid marshals work?

According to the government guidance, marshals should receive training on regulations around restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services, shops, and wedding receptions and celebrations - appearing to suggest that those are the areas they will be targeting.

The guidance also suggests training in ‘de-escalation’ techniques and points out that in some areas councils have chosen to use people who already have security guard training for the role.

However, it also points out that marshals do not have powers to enforce COVID-19 regulations, saying: “The role of COVID-19 Secure Marshals or equivalents is not to enforce COVID-19 regulations, or have any enforcement powers, which should remain the remit of the police and designated local authority compliance and enforcement officers.”

The document includes examples of councils that have already used marshals, including Charnwood Borough Council where teams of two marshals patrolled streets equipped with body cameras.

“Charnwood’s stewards were deployed on weekend evenings when footfall to hospitality venues were at their busiest,” the guidance says.

“They were tasked with visiting pubs and other hospitality establishments to check that COVID-19 Secure measures were in place.”

It says each steward had a checklist of measures to look out for in each establishment, including checking whether pubs had door staff to manage entry and exit, whether social distancing measures were in place, ensuring track and trace information was taken and noting any large gatherings.

“In the case of any severe breaches, the stewards informed the police directly or the council’s designated officer on duty to collate the findings,” it adds.

“Any concerns that were not related to anti-social behaviour were then passed onto the council’s environment health function so that an Environmental Health Officer could follow up as appropriate.”

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