Task force reinforces Blackpool’s COVID safety effort
Blackpool Council has deployed a task force of more than 60 stewards and public protection officers to support the town’s COVID response.
From this weekend, the team will be on the promenade and town centre streets at peak times to encourage businesses, residents and visitors to adhere to all rules and regulations around social distancing, wearing of face coverings, bar and restaurant curfews, and test and trace.
The new initiative is aimed at keeping people safe, whilst also enabling the economy to operate in a safe way.
The team will work closely with other agencies, including Lancashire Police, to ensure that it is a co-ordinated effort that can quickly be deployed to tackle specific problems as they arise.
Last week, it was announced that Blackpool households were banned from socialising, enforceable by law, in addition to the nationwide 10pm curfew on the leisure and hospitality industry. In the same week the Government also rolled out its QR test and trace app.
Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “The primary objective of this local initiative is to stop the spread of the virus and stave off the introduction of further restrictions that could have a damaging effect on the local economy and public morale.
“The stewards and officers will be out on the seafront and other parts of the town and will be highly visible. Their role will be to work with businesses and members of the public to provide guidance and support to ensure that all relevant local and national restrictions are being adhered to.
“Enforcement is the last resort, but it will be used if anyone is found to be deliberately flouting the rules and putting people at risk.”
Dr Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health for Blackpool Council, added: “We have been delighted at the way in which most of our businesses have embraced and responded to the ever-changing restrictions.
“However, now more than ever is not the time to be complacent. Our challenge throughout this pandemic has been to protect the public health whilst also allowing our economy to open up.
“We are mindful that we are a tourism resort, and while there is no evidence of any direct links between increased infection rates and tourism, we will continue to put a high level of focus on ensuring that visitors and businesses do the right thing.
“Given the implicit threat of more restrictions if the spread of the virus is not contained, it is vitally important that everyone plays their part.”
Blackpool Chief Insp Mark Morley added: “The restrictions are there to try to protect the health of people and their families and friends and to stop the spread of the virus.
“Our officers will continue to be out and about and very visible in key areas – please remember we are here to keep everyone safe. We’ll continue to engage with people and explain the rules, but we do want to be clear that we will enforce them where we need to, especially around repeat offenders, significant gatherings and people who deliberately flout the regulations and put others at risk.”