The Election Commission has mandated a negative RT-PCR report or proof of having received both doses of the Covid vaccine in order to enter counting centres on May 2.
The EC has issued a set of instructions on April 28 as part of Covid protocol, specifically for May 2, when the counting of assembly Election votes will be held in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry. The EC has directed all District Election Officers to arrange for either RT-PCR or Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for the candidates and their counting agents before the day of counting, reported Indian Express. The RTPCR test result will have to be dated either April 30 or May 1.
In case the candidate or polling agent is found to have tested positive, then a replacement will have to be appointed and the instruction is very clear that “No one having any symptom of Covid19-like fever, cold etc. shall be allowed to enter the counting hall”.
As per IE, other steps prescribed for safe counting of votes on May 2 include:
Masks, hand sanitisers, face shields, and gloves should be provided to all security and counting officers.
Counting hall to be sufficiently big to ensure social distancing and should be well ventilated.
Counting centres and containers carrying EVMs and VVPAT machines to be disinfected before counting begins.
Candidates and their counting agents to be provided with PPE kits. Seating inside the hall should be arranged in a way that one agent sitting between two counting agents should be in PPE.
Additional Returning Officers can be appointed to supervise the counting of postal ballots. If needed postal ballots can be counted in a separate hall.
DEOs have to obtain a Covid compliance certificate regarding precautions taken in each counting centre from the concerned health authorities.
In the past few days, the EC has issued quite a few instructions in the light of the critical view taken by high courts of Calcutta and Madras high court on the failure of the EC to take active steps to prevent the spread of Covid during campaigning phase. Finally on April 22, the EC banned public rallies and road shows, after, what one can say, considerable damage already done in terms of spread of Covid-19 as people gathered in massive crowds to attend campaign rallies. On April 27, the EC barred any victory processions to be held after the counting on May 2 and put a limit of maximum of two persons to accompany the winning candidate to receive the election certificate from the Returning Officer.
Courtesy: Sabrang India