All election officials and employees will be considered under the ambit of frontline workers and all eligible officers will be vaccinated against COVID-19 with 'precautionary dose', Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said on Saturday.
Addressing a press conference today, Chandra said, "All election officials and employees will be considered as frontline workers and all eligible officers will be vaccinated with 'precautionary dose'."
This decision by the Election Commission came in view of the rising COVID-19 cases in the country as he announced the schedule for Assembly elections to Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
"As COVID cases soared in view of Omicron variant, ECI held meetings with Union Health Secretary and Home Secretary, experts, and health secretaries of States. After taking these views and ground situation, ECI decided to announce polls with safety norms in place," CEC Sushil Chandra said.
In view of the rising COVID-19 cases, Chandra said, "Senior citizens above 80 years of age, persons with disabilities and COVID-19 patients can vote by postal ballots."
Further, in a landmark decision, no physical rally of political parties or probably candidates or any other group related to elections shall be allowed till January 15. "ECI will subsequently review the situation and issues further instructions accordingly," CEC Sushil Chandra said.
"No roadshows, padyatras, cycle or bike rallies and processions shall be allowed till January 15. Situation to be reviewed and fresh instructions to be issued later," the CEC said.
Assembly elections in all five states will be completed in total seven phases, he added.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday announced poll dates for five states with Uttar Pradesh going for a seven-phase election from Feb 10, Manipur to go for two-phase election from Feb 27 and Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand to face elections on February 14.
The counting of votes in all states will take place on March 10.
The poll dates were announced by CEC Sushil Chandra at a press conference here. With the announcement of poll dates, the model code of conduct has come into force.
The seven-phase election in Uttar Pradesh will be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7.
Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa will go for polls on February 14 along with the second phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh.
The polling in Manipur on Feb 27 and March 3 will coincide with the fifth and sixth phases of the Uttar Pradesh election.
Sushil Chandra also announced the COVID-19 norms concerning the elections.
India reported 1,41,986 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the daily positivity rate in the country to 9.28 per cent, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday.
With this, the country's COVID-19 case tally has gone up to 3,53,68,372.
According to Health Ministry, the country has so far reported 3,071 cases of Omicron of which 1,203 have been recovered.
Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of Omicron cases (876), followed by Delhi (513) and Karnataka (333).
The Ministry informed that India's active caseload presently is at 4,72,169. It accounts for 1.34 per cent of the country's total cases.
The weekly positivity rate is at 5.66 per cent, while the daily positivity rate is at 9.28 per cent.
Precaution dose will be administered from January 10 to all senior citizens with co-morbidities.