The arrangements for outdoor campaigning in the run up to the May elections in Warrington have been confirmed.
New national guidance, which was published in full on the gov.uk website on Friday 26 February, details how and when people can begin campaigning outdoors, to ensure the balance of free and fair elections that remain COVID-secure.
For now, the whole of the country remains in a national lockdown which means you must not leave, or be outside of your home except where you have a legally-permitted reason to do so. This means that door-to-door campaigning or leafletting is not allowed (unless leaflets are distributed by a commercial delivery or courier service), but this is set to change from Monday 8 March.
What’s changing from 8 March?
From Monday 8 March, rules will allow for individual campaigners to deliver leaflets and to engage with electors on their doorsteps – but they should always be socially distanced and not enter people’s homes. Only people who are campaigning for a specific electoral outcome can carry out this door-to-door, one-to-one activity and it must be done so in a COVID secure manner.
Those in charge of campaigns will need to ensure that campaigners are aware of the national guidance and of their responsibilities to follow the rules and keep people safe. This includes wearing face coverings where necessary, keeping a safe distance and ensuring excellent hand hygiene. Meetings to organise and plan campaigning should be held online or over the phone and should not take place in person. Where campaigners need to meet, for example to collect printed materials, this should be done on a one-by-one basis and should take place outdoors.
What’s changing from 29 March?
From Monday 29 March, six people or two households can meet outdoors, socially distanced, for the purpose of coordinating election campaigning, as long as people remain socially distanced. This is in line with the national restrictions on gatherings set to start at the end of the month. This does not allow for a change in doorstep campaigning, which should continue on a one-to-one basis, but may help to better coordinate group campaigning as appropriate.
Warrington Borough Council Chief Executive Professor Steven Broomhead MBE, who is the Returning Officer for the elections in Warrington, said: “We must follow this new national guidance robustly and do all we can to keep each other safe, whilst also allowing for people to campaign in a COVID-secure manner.
“It is essential that political campaigners continue to act responsibly and with respect for our residents, other parties and candidates. I would echo the national guidance of acting with ‘social responsibility’ to ensure that we can have free, fair and – critically – safe elections in May.”
To read the full guidance on election campaigning, visit the gov.uk website.