covid secure marshals

This week, Matt Hancock repeated Prime Minister Boris Johnsons statement that ‘COVID marshals’ were to be introduced across England as part of his ‘moonshot’ plan to stop avoid a second Coronavirus lockdown.

Voice Britannia has been in touch with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and local government to find out everything we could on the COVID Warden plan.

What will the COVID-secure marshals do?

The MHCLG told us that the ‘COVID-secure marshals‘ will be put in place to ‘support the public’ by making sure they follow COVID guidelines. Marshals will have varying responsibilities that include :

  • Directing pedestrians.
  • Reminding people of guidelines.
  • Providing information.
  • Cleaning ‘touchpoints’.
  • Being a point of contact for government guidelines.
  • Preventing people from mixing between groups.

An MHCLG spokesperson told Voice Britannia: “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.

“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.”

The majority of the roles the COVID-secure wardens will be expected to do seem quite pedestrian; However, Preventing groups of people from mixing could be a difficult task, one that could require the same SIA accreditation as event security staff and bouncers have.

We asked if any of the COVID-secure marshals would require more advanced training or an SIA licence; We were told this would be a decision for the local authorities.

How will COVID-secure marshals be hired?

In terms of the hiring COVID-secure marshals, we were told that the hiring of marshals would be the duty of local governments.

The MHGLG told us “Local authorities are best placed to determine the model of deployment and responsibilities of marshals in their areas.”

On the topic of hiring, we wanted to know if the government were planning on outsourcing any of the COVID-secure marshal jobs to third-party contractors. On this the department could give no reassurances, reaffirming that decisions on hiring would be the decision of local authorities.

What power will the COVID-secure marshals have?

COVID-secure marshals will not have any legal powers.

The MHCLG told us that the COVID-secure Marshals will be on hand to support the police and members of the public in adherence to COVID guidelines. If a member of the public disagrees with a marshals request, they can be asked to leave the area.

Only the Police will have the power to fine or arrest people if they are breaking the law.


Conclusion – COVID-secure marshals

After speaking with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, while government have created this idea, Stewards will be the responsibility of local authorities.

The plan to empower the public is one that in the long can help communities feel safer; however, like Uncle Ben said: “with great power comes great responsibility”. We must be aware that people may want to abuse these powers and ensure systems are in place to stop it.

In terms of hiring and what to expect from stewards; The COVID marshal job description is more or less the same as an event steward (like you would see at a concert or football match). With local authorities already stretched financially, it is likely the COVID-marshal contracts will be passed, third-party contractors. This way, authorities will be able to deploy marshals in hours and avoid any hiring and setup costs.

The only point of concern is that some COVID-secure wardens will be required to ‘stop groups of people from mixing’. In some cases the only way you will stop people mixing will be to use a degree of force; Esspecially if alcohol is involved.

While the COVID marshals will have no legal powers; those who hold an SIA licence will be able to physically restrain people, then pass them to the police.

With decisions on hiring and scope of the warden role being left up to local governments, it will be interesting to see how each authority hires and deploys their wardens; and what the wardens will be expected to do.

Keep a lookout for COVID-secure wardens in your area. If you have an interaction with a warden, or you become a Warden, get in touch and tell us all about it! (Contact me here)

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