Coronavirus: Government postpones May local and mayoral elections

13 March 2020, 16:15 | Updated: 13 March 2020, 16:27

The elections were due to take place at the beginning of May
The elections were due to take place at the beginning of May. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Local and mayoral elections scheduled for May have been postponed until next year, according to the Cabinet Office.

In a statement, a spokesperson said it would bring forward legislation to delay the ballots until May of next year.

It added: "We will also work with the devolved administrations to ensure that they have the necessary powers to do the same."

The elections, which will also include a vote for the police and crime commissioner, were due to take place on 7 May.

READ MORE: [Live] Major sports events suspended, borders closed, UK cases surge

The decision on Friday came as the UK continued to battle against increasing numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 amid the pandemic.

Cases soared on Friday to 798 from 590 - the largest day-on-day increase since the outbreak began.

London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart said he believed the decision to delay the vote was the "right decision".

He added: "We should now move more rapidly to close gatherings, and schools; extend the isolation period; and restrict non-essential visits to care homes (who have few back up options for patients if they have to close)."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted a neutral response to the announcement, and said: "I will continue to work with the government and experts to help London manage coronavirus over the weeks and months ahead.

"I will always do everything in my power to stand up for London."

READ MORE: Boris Johnson confirms he won't be closing schools

The UK has now moved into the "delay" phase of its response to COVID-19 as it seeks to push back the date that the number of cases would peak.

It is also the phase that comes after early efforts to contain the illness have failed.

Speaking on Thursday, the prime minister said the phase would seek to "minimise suffering" amid "the worst public health crisis of a generation".

He also warned: "Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time."

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