England's first covid marshals hit the streets… but don't wear a mask inside shops

ENGLAND’s first coronavirus marshals have hit the streets – but have been spotted not wearing masks inside shops.

A team of hi-vis wearing enforcers are already a presence in Cornwall to ensure that locals are “respecting social distancing”.

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They are working alongside Cornwall Council’s public protection officers who are helping cafes, restaurants, pubs and hotels reopen during the pandemic.

However, images taken in July and August showed the team of officers giving guidance to local businesses inside – without wearing masks.

Face coverings became compulsory for customers in enclosed public spaces such as shops, transport hubs, banks and takeaways in July.

Cops were told they could hand out fines of up to £100 to those who did not comply with the new government rules.

NO MASKS

One marshall, called Dan, said people give him a thumbs up in his new role.

He said: “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.

“So far, most visitors have been really co-operative and do their best to follow the guidelines and respect social distancing.”

It comes after Boris Johnson announced his army of "Covid marshals" will enforce tough new rules on social gatherings yesterday.

The PM vowed to strengthen enforcement on people flouting the rules banning more than six people meeting.

However, people were quick to mock the new marshals by posting a series of memes online.

Brits described them as sounding like “the worst sort of busybodies”.

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."

They compared them to famous TV characters such as Gareth Keenan from The Office, The Simpsons’ Chief Wiggum and Keith Lard from Phoenix Nights.

The Government has now said the "Covid-secure marshals" will have no formal powers and must be paid for by local authorities.

Mr Johnson told a press conference on Wednesday the marshals would "boost the local enforcement capacity" as he announced new rules designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

They have already been deployed by Leeds City Council and Cornwall Council.

Other local authorities will now be "encouraged" to hire marshals, or use volunteers and existing council employees, with money from their own budgets, a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said today.

She said they would probably wear high-visibility clothing to "support members of the public in one-way systems and remind them of guidelines".

Other tasks could be to "give out masks and hand sanitiser in public places," she added.

Marshals cannot dish out penalties. But they will call cops to fine or arrest those who refuse.

MOCKED ONLINE

They could earn salaries of more than £30,000 a year.

They will be handed local authority uniforms with hi-vis tabards and badges and will carry clipboards so they public know they are there to enforce the rules.

People will be encouraged to snoop on their neighbours and alert marshals or cops if they see groups of more than six meeting inside private homes.

Police will be able to issue £100 on-the-spot fines. Repeat offenders will see the punishment double each time, up to £3,200.

Tim Dwelly, Cornwall Council's portfolio holder for the economy, said: “The presence of these marshals and our public protection officers play a hugely valuable role in giving a bit of extra help where needed.

“You can be assured that your safety is top-of-mind at all times, so do say a friendly 'hi' (dydh da) when you see them.

“Hopefully their presence is a reminder to everyone to be considerate, responsible and patient, too. After all, it’s all being done for everyone’s safety and protection – and we’re all in this together.”







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