Following the successful deployment of an interim Covid-19 response team in town centres and ‘hot spots’, Wokingham Borough Council is delighted to announce that four new full time Covid Support Officers will hit the streets between December and March.
The council has signed an agreement with NSL Services to provide the officers, who will be on hand to promote safe and successful trading in our town and village centres and encourage public compliance with Covid-19 public health measures such as social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.
Role of the Covid Support Officers
They will also engage with and support businesses to follow Covid-19 secure guidelines and sign-post to specialist advice if needed.
In addition to promoting good practice that can mitigate the spread of the virus (and escalating for enforcement action where this is necessary) they will also listen to businesses and help them access other forms of assistance to help them through these very challenging times.
Cllr Charles Margetts, executive member for adult social care and public health said: “There are a number of actions that we’re taking to protect our communities and slow the spread of the virus across the borough. Our Covid Support Officers will provide a reassuring presence, ensuring that there are people on the ground who can offer advice and support directly to businesses and the public.
"It is a crucial step in making it is as safe as possible for people to visit our town and village centres, especially as we come out of lockdown and the night-time economy picks up in the run-up to Christmas.”
Hitting 'hot spots' across the borough
The team will focus on our main town and village centres, including Wokingham, Woodley and Twyford as well as other local centres and ‘hot spots’ across the borough, such as shopping centres or hospitality settings.
The Covid Support Officers are not expected to enforce Covid-19 secure regulations and will not have any enforcement powers. Therefore, they will not be issuing fixed penalty notices, engaging physically with members of the public or business owners, or making decisions about allowing entry to a venue/premises/site. Thames Valley Police and the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) have these actions under their remits.
Providing as much support as possible
Cllr Stuart Munro, executive member for business and economic development added: “Our Officers will be sign-posting businesses to relevant organisations, while also providing us with feedback and intelligence on their general support needs.
"This will help to ensure that we’re providing as much support to the local economy as possible. We also want to assure our residents that the Officers are in place to educate and encourage the right behaviours, not enforce them. Any serious breaches of regulations can be reported via our online form.”
In partnership with NSL
John Evans, Client Account Manager for NSL, added: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Wokingham Borough Council and supply Covid Support Officers across the Borough. Our Officers will be supporting the local community, including businesses, to help everyone operate in a safe manner.
"They will offer a friendly face providing advice and guidance during this challenging time. It is key that different agencies work together to help stop the spread of the virus and we are happy to be playing our part in this.”
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