Voters can be met with a very totally different scene once they head to their polling station subsequent week.
The native elections on May 6 can be the first held since the Covid pandemic started, after final yr’s polls had been cancelled due to the public well being disaster.
People casting their poll in particular person subsequent Thursday may have to accomplish that whereas following strict security guidelines to keep away from polling stations changing into hotspots of potential an infection.
In Newcastle, 124 polling stations can be kitted out with new signage to direct folks around safely, plastic screens separating employees from voters, hand sanitising stations, and further facemasks for individuals who have forgotten to convey one.
Council employees can be stationed at the door of every voting location to remind folks to put a masks on and santise their palms earlier than going inside, whereas voters are additionally being requested to convey their very own pen or pencil – although spares can be obtainable.
After finishing their poll papers, folks may even have to wipe down the desk of their voting sales space with a cleansing wipe earlier than placing their papers in the poll field and exiting.
Ian Humphries, Newcastle City Council’s elections supervisor, gave ChronicleLive a tour of a Covid-safe polling station at a Scout hut in High Heaton on Monday.
He stated: “We have had to examine all of the polling stations and threat assess them to be certain that they’re able to being a polling station beneath a Covid scenario.
“That having been executed, we’ve then supplied the needed PPE for our employees, signage to information the voter by means of this course of.
“We have supplied screens and wipes and hand gel and all the issues that we’ve received used to seeing at the entrance to outlets and now some pubs as properly.
“Those issues that we’ve come to get used to will now be the norm for voting this yr, however hopefully this yr can be completely totally different.”
In the North East, polls can be held to elect councillors in Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Sunderland, Northumberland and County Durham – plus the North Tyneside elected mayor, and police and crime commissioners for Northumbria and Durham.
People have been urged to join postal votes this yr so as to minimise the threat of Covid-19 spreading at polling stations.
Mr Humphries confirmed that an additional 20,000 folks in Newcastle have taken up the choice of a postal vote this yr, after the council wrote in January to each resident who did not have already got one – taking the whole variety of postal voters in the metropolis to around 80,000.
While postal votes ought to be posted again in time for counting, they are often handed in to polling stations on the day.