Strict COVID-19 guidelines issued for local body poll campaign in Kerala

Deccan Chronicle.  | Smitha N

Nation, Politics

No public gatherings, no handshakes, and no interaction with children, elderly, and persons having serious health issues permitted

The Health department and State Election Commission have issued strict guidelines for the candidates and political party workers to ensure safety during the electioneering. (Representational Image: PTI)

Kochi: As Kerala heads for its local body elections in the second week of December, political parties are compelled to change their conventional poll campaign style in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

The Health department and State Election Commission have issued strict guidelines for the candidates and political party workers to ensure safety during the electioneering. Gathering of people is strictly banned and the candidates have been instructed not to interact with children, elderly, pregnant women and persons having serious health issues during the campaign. Shaking hands with people while seeking votes should be avoided, instructs the Health department.

Political parties have been urged to minimise the use of traditional publicity materials like pamphlets, brochures and notices and explore modern campaign tools like social media platforms. People should sanitise their hands after receiving campaign materials like pamphlets.

Though the Election Commission has permitted five people for door-to-door campaign, political parties are allowing only one or two people, considering the gravity of the situation. And most households are reluctant to welcome more people.

“Extreme care is being taken to comply with the COVID-19 protocol while going for the poll campaign. People also are concerned of the risks involved and cooperating with the changed campaign strategies,” said Poornima Narayan, CPM candidate contesting in Kochi Corporation.

Members of the campaign team should wear face masks and keep social distancing while seeking votes. All the public meetings and family gatherings have to be conducted in compliance with the guidelines.

The three-phased elections will be held on December 8,10 and 14. Polls will be held in 21,865 wards in 941 grama panchayats, 152 block panchayats, 14 district panchayats, 86 municipalities and six municipal corporations.

Though the pandemic transmission graph has almost stabilised in the state, public health experts are apprehensive over the chances for rise in numbers in the wake of local body polls and beginning of Sabarimala pilgrim season. 

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