EC Extends Ban On Rallies; Give More Relaxations For Physical Meetings
In a statement, the EC said restrictions regarding outdoor meetings, indoor meetings, rallies will be further relaxed subject to condition that the number of persons attending these events will be limited to maximum of 50 per cent of the capacity of indoor halls and 30 per cent of the open ground capacity.
New Delhi: After reviewing the COVID-19 situation in the country, the Election Commission on Sunday again extended the ban on roadshows, ‘pad yatras’, cycle and vehicle rallies but relaxed norms for indoor and outdoor political meets for five poll-bound states–Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Punjab. In the revised guidelines, Commission had prescribed restrictions and precautions to be taken during the conduct of elections. Commission had also stated that it will review the pandemic situation periodically and take a further view on tightening or relaxing the guidelines based on the ground-level situation.
Key points if the guidelines issued by EC
- Ban on road shows, Pad-Yatras, cycle/bike/vehicle rallies and processions will remain as it before.
- Maximum number of persons permissible for door to door campaigning fixed at 20 will also remain as before.
- Ban on campaign between 8 PM and 8 AM will also continue as before.
- Restrictions regarding outdoor meeting/indoor meetings/rallies will be further relaxed subject to condition that the number of persons attending the indoor/outdoor meetings/rallies will be limited to maximum of 50 percent of the capacity of Indoor halls and 30 percent of the open ground capacity or as fixed by DEO as per requirement of the social distancing norms and whichever is less.
- If the SDMA has set the ceiling limits or percentage of the capacity for number of persons attending indoor hall or open ground and they are stricter, SDMA guidelines will prevail.
- Open ground rallies can be held only in the grounds specifically designated by the district authorities and subject to compliance of all the conditions of SDMA. Allocation of these grounds will be given equitably by District Administration through e-Suvidha portal on first come first serve basis. Capacities of these grounds will be fixed by the District Administration well in advance and notify to all the parties.
- There should be multiple entry and exit points so that there is no crowding as people are coming and leaving the venue. All entrances must have adequate hand hygiene and thermal screening provisions. Adequate number of hand sanitizers should be kept at entrance as well as within the rally area. Seating arrangement must ensure adequate physical distancing and use of masks at all times is mandatory.
- Adequate manpower should be deployed/ arranged by the organizers to ensure observance to physical distancing norms, mask wearing and other preventive measures at all times.
- In designated open ground meetings, people should be accommodated in adequate clusters and such clusters should be separated by separation arrangements. The organisers will ensure this arrangement and nodal officers will ensure compliance.
- The organisers and concerned political parties shall abide by all the above instructions and SDMA related guidelines and ensure covid appropriate behaviour by persons participating in meetings/rallies. Organisers will be responsible for any breach of the Covid related protocols and guidelines.
- District Magistrates will nominate nodal officers to oversee the arrangements done by organisers and ensure compliance of the guidelines. DMs and SPs of the districts will ensure compliance of the instructions and Covid appropriate behaviour and guidelines.
- It shall be overall responsibility of the DEO concerned to identify, notify and allot the designated spaces in advance for the aforesaid purposes.
- All remaining restrictions as contained in the Revised Broad Guidelines for Conduct of Elections, 2022 issued on 8 January 2022 shall continue to operate.
The commission said the decision was taken after taking into consideration all the inputs, facts and circumstances and ground reports from Special Observers, State Chief Secretaries and Union Health Secretary and in the wake of considerable decrease in the number of positive cases, progressive improvement in the prevailing COVID situation and considering the short period remaining for campaigning for elections and need for greater participation of political parties and candidates.
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Assembly Elections in Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases from February 10. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.
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