Doorstep campaigning for local elections to resume in England

Game on! – Owl

Door-to-door political campaigning will be allowed to resume in England from 8 March in the run-up to local elections in May, the government has announced.

Aubrey Allegretti www.theguardian.com

Activists will be permitted to stand on people’s doorsteps and canvass as long as they abide by the 2-metre social distancing rule.

They will not be able to enter people’s homes and should only access shared hallways in blocks of flats where “absolutely necessary”. The new advice also urges organisers to keep the number of campaigners to a minimum.

Campaign literature should be collected or dropped off without people meeting inside, and planning meetings should take place virtually.

From 29 March, when people will be allowed to gather in groups of six or two households outdoors, the same rules will apply to political campaigning.

When it comes to polling day on 6 May, the government said people must not share a car with anyone from outside their household or support bubble to be driven to vote.

Chloe Smith, the minister for the constitution, said: “Democracy should not be cancelled because of Covid. Voters appreciate being well-informed and campaigning is an important part of effective elections.”

She said the easing of restrictions would ensure free and fair elections that were also “Covid-secure”.

“I urge political campaigners to continue to show social responsibility, and for parties, agents and candidates to ensure that their campaigners understand the clear rules,” she said.

Public Health England advises campaigners to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser for at least 20 seconds on a regular basis and wear a face covering when meeting anyone they do not live with.

Given that the government expects many people to vote by post, it also encourages those who want a postal ballot to apply as early as possible to avoid a rush closer to polling day.

Elections will take place at the county, district and parish level, and mayors and police and crime commissioner will also be elected, including any polls pushed back from last spring because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Parliamentary elections will also take place in Wales and Scotland on 6 May, but the devolved administrations will make their own decisions about whether restrictions should be eased to allow for political campaigning.

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