Shimla-16th October. 2021-Chief Electoral Officer, Himachal Pradesh, C. Paulrasu said that strict instructions have been issued to various political parties and District Election Officers to ensure adherence of Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures during the bye-elections for Mandi Parliamentary Constituency and Fatehpur, Arki and Jubbal-Kotkhai Assembly Constituencies.

All necessary arrangements have been made at the state and district level to deal with every situation. Instructions have been given to appoint Health Nodal Officers at the state, district and Assembly Constituency levels. The concerned District Election Officers and Election Officers at the District and Assembly Constituency level have been asked to take all necessary steps for proper and advance coordination and assistance with the health officers.

The concerned District Election Officers-cum-Deputy Commissioners have been asked to ensure the availability of thermal scanners, sanitizers, soap and water arrangements, gloves, face-shields, masks etc. at the polling stations.

Instructions have been given to maintain social distancing at polling stations, training places, dispatch and collection centres. Large halls and rooms, dispatch and collection centres, randomization of EVMs, VVPATs and storage place and counting centers have been identified for the purpose of training in a decentralized or shift manner. In order to ensure that comprehensive guidelines related to Covid-19 issued by the Election Commission of India are implemented in letter and spirit, provision of adequate number of polling and counting staff including reserved staff is being ensured.

He said that strict guidelines have been given to all the candidates and their representatives and political parties concerned to ensure compliance of Covid-19 SOPs during the election campaign. Door to door campaign can be done with five persons including candidates and their representatives. Road shows and motor, bike, cycle rallies would not be allowed. During the campaign through video, not more than 50 audience would be allowed in one cluster point as per the availability of space and compliance of Covid guidelines.

The use of vehicles for campaigning has been limited and the total number of vehicles excluding star campaigners allowed for a candidate or political party is maximum 20 numbers of persons with 50 percent of the capacity of persons permitted per vehicle.

Maximum two vehicles with three persons each would be allowed on polling day. Vehicles engaged in security arrangements will be allowed as per the ECI guidelines in force.

For meetings to be held in the hall or other indoor venues, 30 percent of allowed capacity or 200 persons, whichever is less, may attend. A register would be maintained to count the number of people attending the meeting.

Meetings held in open spaces (outdoor) are allowed with 50 percent of capacity or one thousand capacity in case of star campaigners and 50 percent of the capacity or 500 people in all other cases. During the event, the entire area will be condoned of and will be guarded by the police. The count of people entering the ground will be monitored. Expenditure for the cordoning or barricading will be borne by the candidate or party. Only those grounds which are cordoned or barricaded completely will be used for rallies.

A maximum of 50 persons will be allowed in street corner meeting subjected to availability of space and compliance with Covid-19 guidelines.

The District Election Officers have been instructed to take appropriate measures to prevent gathering on the counting day. Proper distance and other Covid safety protocols will have to be strictly followed during the counting of votes.