A BOROUGH is deploying Covid marshals in its main shopping areas to help champion social distancing and other safety measures.

Blackburn with Darwen Council is recruiting staff for the task as coronavirus restrictions are relaxed.

So far eight are on duty.

The marshals do not have the power to issue fines, but are there to provide social distancing and safety guidance to shoppers and visitors while in busy areas.

Their tasks include helping businesses manage queues, supporting social distancing in crowded places, and encouraging people to wear face coverings.

The Covid marshals, wearing orange and green tabards, are already out and about in Blackburn and Darwen town centres – in particular The Mall and the market in Darwen.

Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen's director of public health, said: "We still need to support all the public health guidelines as we move into the new stages of restrictions being lifted and help to keep ourselves and each other safe.

"The Covid marshals are there to help everyone with this and make sure we can continue to enjoy getting back to some sort of normality.”

Gary Johnston, the council's head of public protection, said: "The Covid marshals are not there for enforcement; they are there to give advice and support.

The role is to encourage people to follow the Covid guidelines, therefore ensuring people feel safe and secure while visiting our town centres.

"It’s great that we have the freedom to enjoy more activities, but we still need to be careful because we are not out of the woods just yet. If we continue to follow the rules, the future is looking bright.”

While recruitment for the dedicated Covid marshals – who will have a six-month contract – is continuing, the positions are temporarily being filled by town centre security and public protection staff.