Candidates in the 2021 London Assembly elections have praised the return of doorstep campaigning this month.
The elections, which were originally to be held on 7 May last year, were delayed due to the Covid pandemic, and will now take place on 6 May alongside the London Mayor elections.
Last month, the Government announced that door-to-door campaigning for England’s local elections, including the London Assembly and mayoral elections, would be allowed to resume from 8 March, in the wake of falling coronavirus case rates.
Nicholas Rogers, the Conservative London Assembly candidate for Hounslow, Richmond and Kingston said: “Allowing safe, Covid-secure campaigning was absolutely the right thing to do. You cannot have elections without also allowing candidates the opportunity to make their case to the voters.
“Before we undertake any campaign activity, we have to plan ahead to make sure that we are being Covid-compliant. So there’s a bit more planning than before but we’re still getting lots done.
“I love doorstep campaigning! There’s nothing better than getting out and talking to people, hearing their issues and letting them know what your approach would be.
“Of course, the number one priority is public safety. But the decision to go ahead with the elections was crucial and thanks to the vaccine rollout and stringent campaigning guidelines, it was judged safe to do so.
“And that was the right decision in my opinion. You have mayors, councillors etc. elected on a four-year term who have ended up serving five years. It was important for the sake of democracy that the elections go ahead.
“I’ve not yet met one person who is planning not to vote because of the pandemic. Postal voting will become more popular, for sure.”
Government advice has been issued to reduce the risk of Covid transmission during campaigning.
Organisers have been told to keep the number of campaigners to a minimum.
Additionally, all activists must abide by the two-metre social distancing rule while canvassing, and they are not permitted to enter people’s homes, although they can collect and drop off campaign literature.
People have also been told to not share a car with anyone from outside their household or support bubble on their way to vote on polling day.
Last month, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, called for every household in areas holding elections in May to be sent a postal voting form, to encourage high voter turnout despite the pandemic.
The deadline to register for a postal vote is 20 April in England, and the deadline to sign up for a proxy vote is 27 April, while the deadline to register to vote is 19 April.
A spokesperson for London Labour said: “This is an election like no other in a year like no other. Sadiq is missing taking part in large events like he normally would during a campaign but is enjoying speaking with Londoners at virtual events and via phonebanks.
“Campaigning is a vital part of the democratic process and Sadiq urges all Londoners who intend to campaign during this election to do so safely and to comply with the government regulations.”
Leonie Cooper AM, the incumbent Labour London Assembly candidate for Merton and Wandsworth, added: “It’s great news that we can re-start doorstep campaigning, but I am encouraging everyone to make sure they do this as safely as possible, using sanitiser regularly and wearing a mask and gloves, as not everyone has received their vaccination yet.
“It’s also important that campaigners only do what feels comfortable. But with the warmer weather and as we gradually unlock, getting out in the sunshine on the doorsteps safely is something many of us have been waiting for!”
Tony Devenish AM, the incumbent Conservative London Assembly candidate for West Central said: “We are focusing on leafletting, telephoning and social media. We are having a good response. Shaun Bailey’s focus on crime and transport is popular.”