Online training is being offered. Volunteer town centre advisers will work with council staff over the next two to three weeks to implement social distancing guidelines.
Establishing a team of volunteer advisers and monitors follows the Prime Minister’s announcement that social distancing is to be reduced from two metres to one metre with the re-opening of many more commercial and leisure businesses.
Volunteers will be on duty for four-hour shifts and will report to town centre control officers who will be responsible for ensuring that social distancing rules are complied with both inside commercial premises and on the public highway.
Volunteer shifts start immediately – as from Thursday 25 June – and there will be three shifts each day, Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 2pm; 12noon to 4pm; and 1pm to 5pm.
The aim is to ensure the widest understanding and reassurance about safe social distancing in preparation for the next step in lockdown easing on Saturday 4 July when many more High Street businesses can re-open, including hair salons, cafes, restaurants, public houses, and cinemas.
In its appeal for volunteers, the council says this is “an exciting chance to advise and assist residents and businesses to implement safe social distancing.
“This role is ideal if you are within walking or cycling distance or a short drive of High Barnet town centre.
“Volunteers will be a visible representative of the London Borough of Barnet.”
Volunteers, who will work in pairs, will be required to wear high visibility clothing. Protective equipment will be provided, including face coverings, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes.
The main duties will include:
Advising and supporting businesses to implement safe social distancing alongside the council’s commercial premises team.
Providing information, advice, and assistance to help sure businesses and residents are able to implement safe social distancing.
Supporting stewards and council staff to identify and resolve issues with social distancing.
Identifying other issues within the town centre and providing advice or signpost information for local businesses and residents.
Dealing with enquiries and requests for assistances and ensuring that they are signposted or referred to the correct team and council department.
Keeping and maintaining records and providing information for the commercial premises team.
The council emphasises that the role of volunteers is to inform and advise the public and “does not require you to enforce the requirements of the law or be in any conflict situations.
“You will have a superviser to escalate any instances of non-compliance. You will be supported in your role by town centre control officers and will have a named contact for each shift.”
Two public health officers are being allocated by the council to the seven main town centres across the borough.
Volunteers will act as “eyes and ears” for the council staff responsible for ensuring the guidance on social distancing is observed.
Gail Laser, founder of Love Barnet, welcomed the council’s initiative and hoped it would ensure the safe re-opening of town centre businesses closed during the coronavirus crisis.