COUNCILS are recruiting swathes of new Covid marshals with contracts that expire in 2023 – raising concerns social distancing measures could remain in place for years to come.
The latest recruitment drive across England has confused Brits who are expecting lockdown restrictions to end on June 21.
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The new army of busybodies are set to hit the streets from this July this year, despite new data showing that almost 40 million UK residents are now living in practically "Covid-free areas" thanks to our impressive vaccine rollout.
Among the authorities advertising the position is Hertfordshire County Council – who are also offering providers an estimated £3 million contract to provide 60 marshals from July 1 until January 31, 2022.
It also comes with the possibility of a one year extension – meaning marshals could be on patrol until 2023.
Hertfordshire County Council wants workers to: "Provide practical support to aid and encourage compliance, such as dedicated staff in public areas, business support, or support for individuals."
The listing continues, "Introduce measures to aid public and business awareness and understanding of regulations and guidance."
Other areas looking to hire more marshals include Sunderland City Council and Northumberland Council – while Darlington, Portsmouth, Cornwall and Carlisle councils have extended current contracts to last beyond July, The Telegraph reports.
They will help patrol city centres as well as managing queues and one-way systems to prevent contact between different groups in public spaces.
Covid marshals were introduced by the government as a way of ensuring social distancing rules were adhered to – splashing out more than £30 million to local councils.
Despite not being able to enforce the rules or issue fines – the marshals were deployed to advise and support members of the public and businesses.
But Hertfordshire County Council rebutted the idea it means Covid measures will remain indefinitely – saying it is "not indicative of any increases in restrictions from July 2021 onwards."
Hertfordshire's director of Public Health, Jim McManus, instead claimed it is merely a contingency plan.
"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," he explained.
"We know from last year that numbers of infections can change rapidly, and Government are very clear that we should plan in case a third wave arises.
"It would be a dereliction of duty not to prepare for a third wave, at the same time as doing all we can to prevent it happening by keeping infections as low as possible so we can enjoy summer with no restrictions."
It comes as plans to introduce patrol drones and Covid marshals on Britain's beaches to stop overcrowding amid a boom of domestic holidays this summer.
Bournemouth beach has announced they will be using the new measures – after more than 500,000 people tried to flock to Bournemouth beach on the hottest day of the year last June.
"Covid Marshals are a very effective asset in the fight against Covid-19 and one of the key ways we manage local outbreaks as they continue to occur in our communities," McManus continued.
"Feedback from Hertfordshire schools, businesses and health partners is that they provide reassurance and encourage simple but effective infection control measures such as social distancing, hand washing, face coverings and ventilation.
"For example, in the weeks leading up to Step 2 of the Government's roadmap Covid Marshals visited nearly 4,000 businesses across the county to provide advice and guidance on reopening safely."
Sunderland City Council are offering a salary of £20,092 to £21,748 for marshals, according to the recruitment website North East Jobs.
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