Councils Advertising Covid Marshall Roles Beyond End of June Restrictions
Around one-in-nine councils across England are employing covid marshals even after the end of restrictions on June 21st, with reports some contracts allow for the extension of roles until 2023.
Boris Johnson announced the rollout of “COVID Secure Marshals” in September 2020, a form of civic officer to “help ensure social distancing in town and city centres”. The government later outlined that COVID Secure Marshals do not have the authority to either enforce social distancing rules or issue fines.
Funding for the stewards comes from central government rather than local or regional authorities. The government made available £30 million in taxpayers’ money for all local authorities in England “to spend on COVID-19 related compliance and enforcement activities”, with funding for the marshals coming from this budget.
Hertfordshire County Council, on the outskirts of Greater London, is offering a contract worth some £3 million a year to a third-party organisation to provide 60 marshals from July to January 2022, with the contract coming with a one-year extension to 2023. Their roles include advising businesses on the regulations and encouraging “compliance”.
The marshals’ job description outlines the following responsibilities: “Provide practical support to aid and encourage compliance, such as dedicated staff in public areas, business support, or support for individuals.”
“Introduce measures to aid public and business awareness and understanding of regulations and guidance,” the contract notice continued.
The council’s Director of Public Health Jim McManus said: “In line with the Government’s projections for the roadmap out of lockdown, we are working towards restrictions being eased by 21 June 2021, but we know that the virus is still circulating and will be for some time.”
Mr McManus added that the government had been “very clear that we should plan in case a third wave arises”.
Sunderland City Council, in the north-east of England, was recruiting for covid marshals with an immediate start date, offering a one-year contract.
Blackburn with Darwen Council is looking to expand its team of covid marshalls, currently at eight, working on six-month contracts.
Northumberland County Council is also recruiting for a “COVID Support Officer” to work beyond June on a three- to six-month contract, “with Possible Extensions”, according to the jobs posting. Duties include “signposting members of the public and businesses to Covid 19 legislation”, “direct[ing] pedestrians and managing pedestrian one-way systems”, and “to hand out face coverings and hand sanitiser where supplied”.
Councils in Carlisle, Cornwall, Darlington, and Portsmouth are also extending their contracts after July.