Chief Election Commissioner Shri Sushil Chandra along with Election Commissioners Shri Rajiv Kumar and Shri Anup Chandra Pandey today held another comprehensive review of the present situation of Covid 19 infection particularly in the states of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The Commission accompanied by Secretary General and concerned Deputy Election Commissioners, met with the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and the Chief Secretaries, the Chief Electoral Officers of the five Poll Going States through virtual mode to assess the present status and projected trends of COVID pandemic. In depth discussions were also held with respect to current Vaccination status of 1st, 2nd doses for eligible persons in the respective States as also arrangements for polling personnel.
All the State Chief secretaries informed the Commission about reports of Covid 19 infection either plateauing out or tapering as on date. They also said that the positivity rate is showing a decline with the number of hospitalisation cases also registering a declining trend. The State officers however said that covid protocol precautions need to be continued to be observed so that no undue spurt takes place due to intense public contact because of heightened political activity. Chief Election Commissioner Sh Sushil Chandra also emphasised that while deliberating on relaxation of restrictions for physical rallies, indoor/outdoor meetings, door to door campaigning, practicality of implementation of orders by field level functionaries should be ensured in the wake of prevailing situation.
After taking into consideration inputs, facts and circumstances and ground reports from State officers and Secretary Health, GOI as also the requirements of necessary political activity in election mode by political parties in the present situation, the Commission has decided as follows:
- No road shows, Pad-yatras, cycle/bike/vehicle rallies and processions shall be allowed till February 11, 2022.
2. Commission has now decided to allow physical public meetings of Political parties or contesting candidates in designated open spaces with a maximum of 1000 persons (instead of existing 500 persons) or 50% of the capacity of the ground or the prescribed limit set by SDMA, whichever number is lesser, from February 1, 2022 for all phases.
3. The Commission has also enhanced the limit for door to door campaigns. Instead of 10 persons, now 20 persons, excluding security personnel, will be allowed for door to door campaigns. Other instructions on door to door campaigns will continue.
4. The Commission has now granted relaxation for the political parties to the extent that indoor meetings of a maximum of 500 persons (instead of existing 300 persons) or 50% of the capacity of the hall or the prescribed the limit set by SDMA is allowed.
5. Political parties and contesting candidates shall ensure the compliance of COVID appropriate behaviour & guidelines and Model Code of Conduct at all occasions during the activities connected with elections.
6. It shall be the responsibility of the DEO concerned to identify and to notify the designated spaces in advance for the aforesaid purposes.
7. All remaining restrictions as contained in the Revised Broad Guidelines for Conduct of Elections, 2022 issued on 8 January 2022 shall continue to operate.