Talks under way | Sunday Observer
Helping voters at quarantine centres:

Talks under way

The subject of helping voters at quarantine centres and in areas under lockdown is currently being discussed at the Election Commission, an authoritative source told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

Attention has been drawn to help these voters to cast their votes at their current place of accommodation and the ongoing discussions are weighing the pros and cons, he said. Due to the recent spike which is now under control, according to the health authorities. A significant number of suspected cases has been sent to quarantine centres or are in self-quarantine. Voters in the quarantine centres, self-quarantine and lockdown areas are the three categories to be considered by the Election Commission.

The Commission is exploring the possibility of sending an official to Government run quarantine centres and have mobile units for those in self-quarantine. In the event of a sudden lockdown, an official from the area will handle the voting. However, a final decision on these options will be taken at the next sitting of the Election Commision by mid next week.

When contacted by the Sunday Observer, Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya welcomed Friday’s Gazette making Covid-19 regulations on the conduct of the poll mandatory.

The following are the Covid-19 health regulations gazetted by the Health Ministry on Friday,

1. Corona Virus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) (Elections) Regulations, No. 1 of 2020.

2. Every person who hopes to organise a meeting during the period of an election shall give notice in writing not less than twenty-four hours before the commencement of such meeting to the Medical Officer of Health of the area in which such meeting is to be held.

3. The organiser who gives the notice under regulation 2 shall ensure that the number of persons attending such meeting shall not exceed three-hundred:

Provided, however, where the leader of a political party or an independent group participates at such meeting, the number of persons attending such meeting shall not exceed five-hundred.

4. The organiser shall –

(a) maintain a record of the name, identity card number and contact detail of every person attending such meeting;

(b) provide adequate hand washing facilities with soap or sanitiser for those attending such a meeting ensure that every person who attends such premises washes his hands before entering the premises;

(c) ensure social distancing not less than one metre between two persons including speakers attending such a meeting;

(d) ensure that every person who attends such meeting wears a face mask at all times; and

(e) disinfect or cause to be disinfected the equipment including the microphone immediately after being used by a person.

5. A group of persons visiting the houses of electors during the period of an election for the purpose of canvassing votes of such electors or distribution of hand bills or other printed materials shall not exceed five.

6. The group of persons referred to in regulation 5 shall-

(a) at all times wear a face mask and maintain social distancing of not less than one metre between themselves and between themselves and occupants of the house; and

(b) sanitise their hands before distributing hand bills or other printed material to the occupants of the house.

7. Every candidate in any election shall -(a) provide adequate hand washing facilities with soap or sanitiser for those visiting the election office and its premises of such candidate and ensure that every person who visits such office and premises washes his hands before entering the premises;

(b) ensure social distancing of not less than one metre between two persons at such office and its premises;

(c) ensure that every person who visits such office and its premises wears a face mask at all times;

(d) ensure that no alcohol is brought into or consumed within such office and its premises; and

(e) ensure that no games of chance or skills are played within such office and its premises.

8. Every person at any polling station and its premises, counting centres and its premises and the office of the Election Commission and its premises shall –

(a) sanitise his hands with soap or sanitiser before entering the polling station and its premises, counting centres and its premises and the office of the Election Commission and its premises;

(b) maintain social distancing of not less than one metre between two persons; and

(c) wear a face mask at all times.

9. “during the period of an election” means the period commencing on making a Proclamation or Order for the conduct of a Referendum or holding an election, as the case may be, and ending on the date on which the result of the poll taken at such Referendum or election, as the case may be, is declared.

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