Special health officers to three canvassers: EC issues new election guidelines to keep COVID at bay

Srinagar: Seemingly fearing second wave, Election Commission has imposed a cap on the number of persons accompanying candidates during the campaign trail in a bid to prevent COVID 19 from spreading during upcoming polls in Jammu and Kashmir

Election Commission has issued a fresh list of dos and do nots for the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) and Panchayat by-polls given the pandemic.

The first-ever District Development Council polls will be held in eight phases from November 28. Elections to fill up vacant seats of Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies will also be held simultaneously.

This is the first political exercise in Kashmir after the abrogation of article 370 on August 5 last year.

Over 350 nominations have been received for 43 seats in the first phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

Given the magnitude of Covid-19, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has issued SOPs for the candidates as well as the poll staff to keep the virus at bay.

The CEO has ordered that only three persons shall accompany candidates during the campaign trail. This excludes security personnel escorting the candidates

“Subject to any other restrictions including extant Covid-19 guidelines, a group of three persons including a candidate, but excluding security personnel if any, shall be allowed for door-to-door campaigning,” the notification said.

Similarly, restrictions have been imposed on the number of people in public rallies. “Number of persons to accompany candidate for submission of nomination shall be restricted to one and also the number of vehicles for the purpose of nomination shall be restricted to one,” the notification said.

For poll meetings, the chief electoral officer has ordered using large halls and open places to adhere to the social distancing norm.

On polling days, the CEO has called for thermal scanning of the voters and staff at polling stations.

“Thermal scanning of voters at the entry point of polling station location and polling station shall be carried out, either by polling staff or paramedical staff or Asha workers,” the notification added.

Sanitizers and the use of masks too have been mandatory for the staff and the voters on the poll day in Jammu and Kashmir.

The election commission has deputed a nodal health officer to oversee the arrangements and take preventive measures during the entire electoral process.

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