Ten redeployed members of council staff have been working as marshals since last month, speaking to residents, shoppers and businesses, offering advice and guidance about the national rules and what they can do to keep themselves and others safe and supporting with enforcement activity.
On Monday, 20 new marshals will join the team to increase the amount of time that can be spent engaging with people in those areas where there is a higher prevalence of Covid-19.
The officers have been employed on a temporary basis, using funding provided by the Government as part of the Outbreak Management Fund.
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The marshals are just one element of a packages of measures aimed at driving down rates of infection in the city. Currently, 208 people per 100,000 have the virus in Peterborough, which is slightly less than a week ago.
The council is also working with a large number of community organisations such as Age UK and Youth Inspired, faith groups, and others to reach as many different people as possible. This includes translating important information into other languages and working with community leaders to ensure the messages are shared widely.
Other measures in place include advertising important public health advice on information boards, lampposts and roundabouts in key locations, using an LED van to share messages in key areas, radio advertising, supporting businesses to ensure they are operating Covid-safely and allowing as many people as possible to work from home, and working closely with Cambridgeshire police to support enforcement activity.
Rob Hill, head of the Rapid Response Team for Peterborough, said: “We know from our experience in the summer when rates of the virus were fairly high in Peterborough - and the city was on the Government’s watch list as an area of concern - that putting boots on the ground is the most effective way that we can engage with people, offer advice and guidance on the rules and safe practices and ultimately reduce rates of the virus.
“At that time we were able to reduce transmission to the point where the city came off the Government watch list and it had much lower rates than many other parts of the country.
“We have adopted the same approach once again and from Monday our team of marshals will triple in size to 30, working on a shift basis, meaning we should always have at least 20 marshals working at any one time. They will be located in the areas of the city where the data tells us they are most needed – where there are the highest rates of Covid - as a quick and effective way to engage with residents and businesses and share national guidance and public health advice.
“There is no magic solution, but the way we will reduce rates of Covid in our city, keep people safe and move to a lower tier is by reminding residents and businesses at every opportunity of the rules, why it’s important we follow them and how we can all play our part.”
Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “Our communities have really stepped up this year and made sacrifices in their lives to be able to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. We need that commitment from people once again so that we can reduce infection rates to protect those we love as we head towards Christmas when limited socialising with friends and family will be allowed temporarily.
“Our infection rates are stabilising or coming down which shows that the actions we are taking are working. We have good plans in place to continue to drive down our infection rates and the increased presence of marshals are a key part of our plan to achieve this as they can work directly with people in our communities and offer advice and guidance where it is most needed.
“As our Prime Minister has said there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we need to continue to follow the rules and do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus so that our city can be freed from the shackles of Covid as quickly as possible.”