A new team of Covid support advisors are out and about on the streets of Wolverhampton to help keep people safe and encourage them to follow the rules.

The 17 strong team, who are employed by the council and will operate across the city, started work this week.

It follows the Prime Minister’s call last month for all local authorities to introduce such measures.

The council has developed the Wolverhampton scheme in conjunction with local business representatives.

The advisors will provide a highly visible presence in shopping areas to reassure the public, provide friendly advice and encourage people to follow the rules on things such as social distancing, following one way systems and the wearing of face coverings.

They will also be giving out free face coverings to people.

The team are not enforcement officers and will not be issuing any fines.

Another of their main functions will be to visit businesses to check they are complying with Covid rules around things like the wearing of suitable PPE and ensuring social distancing.

Businesses which are doing the right thing will be awarded a Covid Compliant sticker to display in their windows. Any business found to be flouting the rules and putting the health of customers and staff at risk will be referred to environmental health officers who can offer specialist advice but also take enforcement action, including closure, as a last resort where necessary.

Since the Covid Compliant scheme was launched last Friday, 212 city businesses have already received their Covid Compliant sticker. It is hoped the scheme will boost customer confidence and encourage more businesses to comply with the rules.

The team will be able to get around the city travelling on buses and the Metro thanks to TfWM.

Councillor Steve Evans, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for city environment, said: “The vast majority of people know we are in this together and are doing the right thing to look after each other and keep each other safe.

“Our Covid support advisors are there as a light touch measure to provide some reassurance to the public, to provide support and advice because sometimes the rules can be confusing and to encourage people who are not following the rules to do so.

“They are not there to be heavy handed or to issue fines, they are not enforcement officers. They are there to build relationships with people and offer advice and guidance.

“They will be giving out free face coverings to the public and issuing green tick Covid Compliant stickers to the vast majority of businesses who are doing the right thing."

The advisors have been employed on temporary contracts and are being funded by money from central Government to help local authorities deal with the pandemic.