England and Wales will go ahead with local government elections on May 6 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the government said on Friday announcing a range of additional safeguards to make voting flexible and secure.
The elections, which decide hundreds of positions in local governments across both countries, had been under review due the coronavirus, with England currently in a state of lockdown that is expected to last at least another month.
But on Friday the government said that they had decided to go ahead, albeit with a series of special measures including more flexible rules on proxy voting and telling voters they should bring their own pens to mark ballot papers.
“Democracy should not be cancelled because of COVID,” said the Constitution Minister Chloe Smith.
Election in the devolved Scottish and Welsh parliaments are due to take place on the same day, but they are administered separately and not covered by Friday’s announcement.
Local elections usually give some signal as to the public’s happiness with the current central government, although specific local issues are often also influential meaning the results are not a direct proxy of national sentiment.