Published: 20:37, 17 September 2020
| Updated: 21:02, 17 September 2020
Kent councils remain frustrated and confused over Government plans to appoint marshals to enforce coronavirus restrictions.
Authorities in Medway, Maidstone, Canterbury, Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, Folkestone, Gravesham, Ashford, Tonbridge, Swale, Dover, Dartford and Thanet say they are still waiting for full guidance on how this would work.
While this is the official line, behind the scenes staff are "frustrated" about the lack of clarity and detail, with one Kent council saying it is "at a loss" over the idea and will not be "actively" pursuing it.
However, Whitehall bosses say that some parts of the country, namely Leeds and Cornwall, have appointed marshals to support people in a "friendly way" in high streets and public places.
A Government spokesman said: "We will be working with councils to see where else they are needed."
Under the plans, marshals will be expected to stop large groups from mixing in the new 'Rule of Six' - which means social gatherings of more than six should not meet indoors or outdoors.
According to the Government, marshals will clean touchpoints, enforce social distancing and be a point of contact for information about Covid. It has been suggested that people taking on the roles could be volunteers or council staff.
The office of Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick MP adds that district authorities are "best placed" to decide how to deploy marshals in their area.
But 13 of Kent's councils say their position has not changed from last Friday - when the Government initiative was announced - as they seek further details.
Medway Council's director of public health, James Williams, said: "We are awaiting further guidance from government regarding the introduction of Covid-secure marshals.
"We continue to do everything we can to protect our local residents to ensure they feel safe."
A Canterbury council spokesman said: "We are aware of the government announcement about Covid marshals.
"But will be waiting for full guidance about how it would work and be funded before deciding if or how we would put such a scheme in place."
A Dover council spokesman added: "We continue to await further detail from the government regarding the proposed Covid marshal scheme. Once this is received, the council will consider what action to take."
A spokesman for Ashford council said: “We will be working with partners at Kent County Council and with Kent’s other district councils to see how this can best be delivered."
Earlier this month, Leeds City Council said it had introduced six night marshals in a BBC interview but claimed they "did not have any enforcement powers".
Concerns have been raised by other England councils about the scheme, including Newcastle, Lewisham, North Yorkshire Swindon and Cheshire.
Further details around Covid marshals will be set out in due course, the Government has said in response.