Doorstep campaigning not allowed under Covid rules – minister

PA

Political parties have been urged to halt their in-person campaigning during the current lockdown.

The Cabinet Office said leafletting and door-to-door campaigning was “not considered (an) essential or necessary activity”.

A number of elections are due to be held in May, including those for the Mayor of London, the Welsh and Scottish parliaments as well as local authorities in England.

Many of these were postponed from May 2020 due to coronavirus, and Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith said the Government is reviewing how this year’s polls can be “successfully delivered in a Covid-secure way”.

Elections for combined authority mayors
Elections for combined authority mayors

In a letter to members of the Parliamentary Parties Panel, she wrote: “The Government’s view is that (the) restrictions do not support door to door campaigning or leafleting by individual political party activists.

“It is widely accepted that voters can continue to get campaigning information remotely. In order to reduce transmission of Covid-19 infection, door to door campaigning at this point in time is therefore not considered essential or necessary activity.

“I hope that you will all agree that it is essential that we reduce the infection rate, protect the NHS and save lives.

“I would ask that all parties follow this advice, and ensure that your supporters are aware of this position.”

Last Sunday, Sir Ed Davey of the Liberal Democrats defended his party for continuing to carry out door-to-door leafleting during the pandemic, adding that it is “compliant with the guidance”.

Asked if it was an appropriate action to take following the Government’s stay-at-home message on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sir Ed said: “Yes. If it is compliant with the guidance, absolutely.”

Pushed further on whether it is compliant with the stay-at-home guidance, the party’s leader said: “The guidance says there is an exemption for volunteer organisations, we’ve taken legal advice on that, and the advice we’ve given to all our councillors and volunteers is they need to wear a mask, they need to socially distance, they need to sanitise their hands.

“We’re taking all the sorts of precautions that Amazon takes, that Royal Mail takes.”

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