A “DAD’S ARMY” of busybodies will be hired to ensure the public obey new coronavirus rules announced by Boris Johnson.
Covid Secure Marshals will patrol town and city centres in England telling people to observe social distancing and stick to groups of no more than six.
The mix of recently retired environmental health officers and newly qualified ones will also crack down on pubs and restaurants breaking test and trace rules.
The Government will support local councils to hire the “army”, who will be on the streets in weeks.
The marshals will monitor people and can tell them to disperse.
They cannot dish out penalties. But they will call cops to fine or arrest those who refuse.
The marshals 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.
SNOOP ON NEIGHBOURS
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.
Mr Johnson said at Downing Street today: “We have spoken to police officers about what they need for an effective enforcement regime and, of course, listened to the feedback from you, the public.
“In response, we are simplifying and strengthening the rules — making them easier for you to understand and for the police to enforce.”
The Prime Minister warned that anyone breaking the rule of six could be nicked.
He added: “The ban will be set out in law and it will be enforced by the police — anyone breaking the rules risks being dispersed, fined and possibly arrested.”
Pubs will now be forced to take down details of every drinker or diner who enters.
From Monday, boozers and restaurants risk a £1,000 fine if they do not get details of groups they serve.
The Government had previously asked them to take details and keep them for 21 days — but it was only ever guidance.
It will now be written into law, with landlords facing penalties for flouting the rules.
Boris said: “In future, premises and venues where people meet socially will be legally required to request the contact details of every party, record and retain these details for 21 days and provide them to NHS Test and Trace when required.”
Fines will be levied against hospitality venues that fail to ensure their premises remain Covid-secure.
Travellers will also be banned from entering the UK unless they have filled out track and trace forms under new government plans.
Ministers aim to make the form a “condition of travel” to free-up Border Force staff to check that people are in quarantine.
Officials are working with airlines to make sure passengers cannot board a plane if they have not filled out the form.
They will also make sure the form matches up to booking data — to make sure people do not put down fake addresses.
The PM hinted quarantine could be ended through improved testing, which the travel industry wants.
Mr Johnson added: “The measures we are announcing are not intended to cause any extra burdens on the travel industry, and I really appreciate the difficulties that sector has been going through.
“We want to get people flying as fast and efficiently as we can and we are going to look at all the ways, with more technology, and better testing to liberate people to fly in the way that they want to.”
Tonight, the Covid marshals were being mocked in posts and memes on social media, with some people likening them to pompous Captain Mainwaring and the officious ARP Warden, Mr Hodges, from classic TV comedy Dad’s Army.
Members of the public were also quick to raise their concerns.
Londoner Paul Battley wrote online: “Covid marshals. It’s going to be all SAS fantasist wannabe hard men in hi-vis, isn’t it”
Darren Grimes said: “Covid marshals sound like utterly horrendous busybodies that don’t belong in a free society like ours. Awful.”
Another social media user said “Covid Secure Marshals. That’s even a step down for a traffic warden.”
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