Covid-19 marshal: What powers do they have and can I apply?

Boris Johnson has promised ‘stronger enforcement of the rules’

Sarah Young
Saturday 31 October 2020 13:18
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Boris Johnson has announced a series of new lockdown rules for England, including the introduction of Covid-19 Secure Marshals.

On 9 September, the prime minister held a televised press conference from Downing Street, during which he outlined a host of new measures set to come into force across the country from Monday 14 September.

In addition to restricting all social gatherings to a maximum of six people, Mr Johnson promised “stronger enforcement” of the rules which are already in place.

To achieve this, he said that local authorities are to be given additional support from Covid-19 Secure Marshals, who will help to enforce the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

“I want to see – and the public wants to see – stronger enforcement of the rules which are already in place,” he said.

“So I’ve have tasked the Cabinet with increasing enforcement and I would like to thank the police, as always, and other authorities for the work they are doing to keep us all safe.”

Mr Johnson continued: “We will boost the enforcement capacity of local authorities by introducing Covid-19 secure Marshals to help ensure social distancing in town and city centres, and by setting up a register of Environmental Health Officers that local authorities can draw upon for support.”

But, what are they and how what powers will they have? Here is everything you need to know.

What is a Covid-19 secure Marshal?

In a statement shared online regarding the new rules, the Cabinet Office said: “The government will support Local Authorities and police forces to respond to breaches of Covid-19 Secure guidelines.

“We will launch a register of newly qualified and recently retired Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) so that Local Authorities can recruit more quickly and fill any gaps.

“In addition, we will introduce Covid-19 Secure Marshals to help local authorities support social distancing in towns and city centres.”

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHGLG), the marshal scheme will be run by local authorities, not the government. This means that matters of numbers, recruitment and remuneration will be for them to decide.

“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,” a spokesperson for MHGLG told The Independent.

“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.”

Who can be a marshal?

According to the Cabinet Office, the new guidelines will be supported by newly qualified and recently retired Environmental Health Officers (EHOs).

In addition, the MHGLG added that some local authorities who have already deployed marshals have enlisted the help of volunteers, existing council staff or hired marshals specifically to carry out this role.

The government has not yet released any details on how you can apply to become a Covid-19 Secure Marshal.

What powers will they have?

The MHGLG states that existing marshals have had varying responsibilities including; directing pedestrians, providing information, cleaning touchpoints, preventing mixing between groups and being a point of contact for information on government guidelines.

The spokesperson added that local authorities are best placed to determine the model of deployment and responsibilities of marshals in their areas.

It is likely that marshals will not have the power to issue fines, however they can alert the police.

How will the new rules be enforced?

During the press conference, Mr Johnson said: “The ban will be set out in law and it will be enforced by the police – anyone breaking the rules risks being dispersed, fined and possibly arrested.”

Failure to stick to the new rules could mean a £100 fine, which will double with every subsequent offence up to £3,200.

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