With a sharp increase in the number of cases of coronavirus across the county, Covid marshals are to start patrolling the streets of the main towns in Dorset, to ensure that the rule of six and social distancing is being complied with.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council has announced that seven Covid marshals will be deployed this weekend to help ensure compliance with the regional Tier 1 restrictions.
Dorset Council has received £160k from central government for Covid marshals and it is working with partner organisations to determine how, where and when this money should be used.
Could be deployed in the future to other hotspot towns including Swanage
It’s understood that patrols will be in Weymouth at the weekend and could be deployed in the future to other hotspot towns, which includes Swanage, Wareham and Dorchester
Dorset Council councillor and portfolio holder for customer and community services, Jill Haynes said:
“We’re looking at where additional resources for Covid marshals are needed – particularly if it’s a hotspot for the virus – and will act accordingly. We also have officers from environmental health, trading standards and licensing responding to complaints, offering advice, and carrying out visits where needed.
“Dorset businesses are generally compliant and we continue to remind everybody to behave responsibly and follow the guidance.”
“The situation in Dorset is serious.”
The latest figures from Public Health Dorset show that there were 414 Covid cases in the Dorset Council area for 18th to 24th October 2020. This compares to the previous week when there were 245.
In the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council area there were 774 Covid cases for 18th to 24th October 2020, compared to 481 the previous week.
As of Tuesday 27th October 2020, there were 85 COVID-19 patients in hospital beds in Dorset. This is in comparison to 44 patients on Wednesday 21st October 2020.
Public Health Dorset said as it reported the new weekly numbers:
“Our case numbers are continuing to go up particularly in the 18-30 age range and we are seeing more patients in our hospitals who are testing positive with Covid-19. The situation in Dorset is serious.”
Who are the Covid marshals?
The COVID-19 marshals – who are funded through a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government grant – can be identified by their high-visibility jackets.
Their job is to ensure that the regional restrictions are being followed, and will work alongside the police and council to ensure this.
They will be deployed to various hotspots in the area to check for compliance and correspond with regulatory services and the police if required.
Current Covid restrictions
Both Dorset Council and BCP Council still remain under Tier 1 measures.
This means that the rule of six remains in effect, as does social distancing and the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants.
The rise in cases is most acute in Bournemouth and Poole but there is also cause for concern for towns west of the county.
If BCP Council area was to move up to Tier 2 Covid restrictions, the Director of Public Health Dorset, Sam Crowe said in a briefing to residents last week that it was entirely possible that the Dorset Council area would move into the same tier at the same time, in recognition of the interconnection between the two areas. Many residents live in one area and work in the other and vice versa
“The shared goal of keeping our communities safe”
Councillor May Haines, Portfolio holder for Community Safety, BCP Council said:
“We are pleased to be able to introduce the Covid marshals this weekend, who will work with the community and partners to support Covid-19 rule and regulation compliance.
“We would like to welcome the seven new marshals to the BCP Council team and look forward to all working together to help people adhere to current Covid-19 guidance with the shared goal of keeping our communities safe.
“To help us all stay safe, please remember to keep to the ‘Rule of 6’, wear a mask in enclosed spaces, wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing.”
Latest updates on COVID-19 in Dorset on the Public Health Dorset website