Live updates as voting starts in Wales’ 2021 Senedd election

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Voters are heading to the polls today to elect a new Welsh Government against the backdrop of coronavirus.

Voting opened at 7am and people can cast their voted until 10pm today – Thursday, May 6.

Coronavirus restrictions mean that counting and declarations will take place on Friday due to rules designed to ensure the safety for those working to count and verify ballots. What you need to know about voting.

Social distancing measures in place mean voters will have to keep to the two-metre rule within polling stations, wear a face mask and keep to one-way systems, while clear safety screens will be in use.

Voters are being encouraged to bring their own pens or pencils to fill in their ballot papers but they will also be available at the poling stations.

The 2021 Welsh Parliament election is the first since the legislature was renamed from the National Assembly of Wales as well as the first in which 16 and 17-year-olds can vote.

The pandemic has dominated discussions, debates and headlines in the lead up to polling day.

Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford is favourite to be returned as First Minister, and hopes to capitalise on the success of Wales’ vaccination programme as well as his favourable approval ratings during the pandemic.

But the results of a YouGov poll released on Wednesday showed that the Conservatives were on course for a bumper Senedd election.

The poll puts Labour up 1% compared to the equivalent poll last month, but the Conservatives are up 5% on the last poll, showing a strengthening of support in the last hours of the campaign.

It projects Labour would still be the biggest party in Wales, with the Conservatives in second.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has ruled out the party being a junior coalition partner, as they were between 2007 and 2011, and has said he would call an independence referendum within five years were he in government and described Covid as a “game changer” for the independence movement.

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