Image Credit: City of York Council
The City of York Council has announced an increased presence of police officers and marshalls to patrol the city centre and its main thoroughfares during the evenings. This measure is reportedly to serve as a reminder and enforcement tool for governmental guidelines regarding social distancing and Covid precautions. The council's new enforcement teams conducted unannounced spot checks on popular venues throughout the last weekend, ensuring that Covid-19 protocols were being accurately followed by the venues.
The increased presence of authority in the city comes after several university students recently tested positive for Covid-19 and local MP Rachel Maskell criticised the 10pm curfew for drinking establishments in Parliament. The Council hopes this increased presence will encourage people leaving pubs and bars in the city at the curfew time to return home without creating further Covid-19 risks. In support of the planned increase in manpower, City Council leader Keith Aspden has written directly to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, asking for clarity on what funds have been made available to finance additional Covid-19 Marshalls across the country.
The council has been working with North Yorkshire Police, health experts and the York BID (Business Improvement District) along with other partners to ensure that all measures taken within York in regards to increased manpower and enforcement are done safely, and for the greater public health of residents and visitors to York, including students at the two major universities in the city.
The Council’s core message is to ensure that every person in the city is following Covid-19 guidelines to the fullest extent they can. To that end, the Director of Public Health for York Council, Sharon Stoltz, has urged the public to avoid gathering in large groups as it “gives the virus the chance to spread and increases the risk for us all.” While likewise reminding the public of the simple precautions we should all be taking “Hands, Face, Space” which refers to:
- Regular washing of the hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds
- Wearing a face covering in public spaces
- Keep 2m apart from people outside your household bubble and do not gather with groups of more than 6 people.
- Self isolate for 14 days if you display any covid symptoms while asking for a test to confirm the condition (further details on both symptoms and test booking can be found at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus)
North Yorkshire Police Superintendent, Mike Walker, who is in charge of the Covid-19 response also made a statement advising the public that those found breaking the Covid-19 regulations would be treated very seriously and warned that the police would use their powers to issue fines if members of the public do not follow guidelines, particularly at times when an increased police presence has been asked for by the council. He said:
“North Yorkshire Police will continue to do everything within our power to keep the people of York and North Yorkshire safe. We know the majority of the public will join us and follow the rules. Those who do not, and who put the vulnerable among us at risk, should fully expect police to take action against them.
My advice to anyone who is thinking of enjoying a night out in the city this weekend is to follow the regulations, otherwise your night could suddenly become a very expensive one.”