EC extends bans on rallies till Jan 22, allows indoor meetings with 300 persons

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The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday announced it has extended the ban on physical rallies and roadshows for the upcoming assembly elections across five states to January 22 but granted relaxation to parties to conduct indoor meetings with maximum 300 persons or 50% of the capacity of the hall.

“No road show, padyatra, cycle/bike/vehicle rally and procession shall be allowed till 22 January, 2022. The Commission shall subsequently review the situation and issue further instructions accordingly. No physical rally of political parties or candidates (including probables) or any other group related to election shall be allowed till 22 January, 2022,” the EC said in a statement.

“However, the Commission has granted relaxation for the political parties to extend indoor meetings to a maximum of 300 persons or 50% of the capacity of the hall or the prescribed limit set by the SDMA,” it added.

The EC on Saturday held a slew of virtual meetings with the health ministry and the chief secretaries and health secretaries of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, and also the chief electoral officers of these five poll-going states.

Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra along with Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar and Anup Chandra Pandey accompanied by the secretary-general and the deputy election commissioners concerned also held a separate review of the present status and projected trends of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Vaccination status and action plan for expeditiously completing vaccination for 1st, 2nd and booster dose for eligible persons amongst frontline workers and polling personnel were also reviewed. The Commission also discussed SDMA’s restrictions and state-specific extant guidelines regulating the norms of gathering of persons during the period of pandemic,” the EC said in a statement.

The EC said all remaining restrictions announced on January 8 will continue to remain in effect.

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