A TEAM of Covid marshals are to monitor hotspots in Hart to ensure visitors are not "coming to our open spaces and spreading the virus".

The 'Covid compliance team' is made up of the authority's Covid enforcement officer, plus employees from environmental health, licensing and community safety to ensure that businesses still open during lockdown are doing so safely and are Covid-secure.

A spokesperson said that they will also ensure that "people out exercising in the areas are indeed local residents, making sure that visitors aren't coming to our open spaces and spreading the virus".

HDC was one of the first local authorities to use these new enforcement powers in December, which allow officers to issue a Covid Improvement Notice, an Immediate Restrictions notice, or a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Cllr David Neighbour, leader of the council, said: “We wanted officers to join forces and target areas across the district with the highest infection rates.

"This approach aims to give a visible presence to the public to show that we are acting on their behalf to keep them as safe as possible.

"As a local authority we have new enforcement powers, which allows us to act upon any businesses, or person, breaking the Covid rules set by central government.”

Speaking about the new powers, Mark Jaggard, head of place at Hart District Council, said: “So far, we found the urban centres to be appropriately quiet with genuinely high levels of compliance within businesses and the public.

"We have found issues within the rural areas and a Covid Improvement Notice was served on a business before Christmas.

"My thanks to the team for working so diligently during this pandemic.”