The England and Wales polling watchdog recommended pushing the elections back to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Following a rapid increase in Coronavirus cases across the UK this week, it has been recommended that this May’s local elections be postponed. As of March 13, 798 people in the UK have been diagnosed with the contagious infection, with the Government urging those with symptoms to self-isolate for seven days to protect others from the virus.
Boris Johnson has decided to postpone the local government and mayoral elections in May, since they would have coincided with the peak of the outbreak
— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) March 13, 2020
Confirming the news just this afternoon, the elections will be delayed until May next year, postponing for an entire year due to the Government expecting the “peak” of the outbreak to be around that time, according to Sky News.
Mayoral and local elections were due to take place on May 7, however, the Electoral Commission has said there are “growing risks to the delivery of the polls” as the total number of those infected continues to rise daily.
In a letter to the Government, the Electoral Commission said it had “become clear that the risks are so significant as to raise serious concerns about the polls continuing to their current timetable”, before adding “While increased access to post and proxy voting may provide a partial solution for some electors, it would create further and additional pressures and risks in other parts of the system”.
There are currently no plans for the UK to take further measures against the virus, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirming just yesterday that educational institutes and places of work would remain open, despite the number of cases quickly rising. The situation is being closely monitored, and further action could be taken at any time depending on how the situation unfolds.
Andy Burnham, the current Mayor of Greater Manchester, was in the running for this year’s election, with the hopes of being re-elected for Labour. Other candidates include Andy Kelly for the Liberal Democrats, Laura Evans for the Conservative party and Melanie Horrocks for the Green Party.