Even as all arrangements have been made for the counting of votes polled for the byelections held in one Lok Sabha and two Assembly segments on Sunday, adherence to COVID-19 protocol is an additional mandatory requirement this time in the wake of the surge in cases.
Byelections were held in two Assembly constituencies of Basavakalyan in Bidar district and Maski in Raichur district, and in Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency.
This time around, the district administrations have taken extra care to ensure strict adherence to safety protocols. In all three constituencies, producing COVID-19 negative reports in addition to the requisite passes is mandatory for gaining entry to the counting centres.
Speaking to presspersons after reviewing the counting preparations in Maski on Saturday, Raichur Deputy Commissioner R. Venkatesh said that as per the Election Commission guidelines, it was mandatory for the candidates and their agents to produce negative COVID-19 test reports and also vaccination certificates to gain entry to the counting centre.
For the counting being held at SRPS PU College in Raichur city, around 210 officials and 290 police personnel have been deployed.
R. Ramachandran, Deputy Commissioner of Bidar, said the officials on poll duty have been asked to wear double masks as a precaution. Here too, vaccination certificates and reports of RT-PCR or RAT are mandatory for all those enter the counting centre. The counting for Basavakalyan byelection will be held at B.V. Bhoomaraddi College in Bidar city.
As producing COVID-19 negative report is mandatory to gain entry into the counting centres, the Deputy Director of Information and Public Relations Gurunath Kadabur had arranged RT-PCR tests for around 80 journalists of Belagavi on Friday.
In Belagavi, the counting of votes will be taken up at Rani Parvati Devi College in Tilakwadi of Belagavi city. Police Commissioner K. Thiyagarajan has banned the entry of the general public into the counting centre. Apart from the passes issued by the Returning Officer, the candidates, counting agents, officers on poll duty, and security personnel are mandated to bring COVID-19 negative certificates.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner K. Harish Kumar has promulgated prohibitory orders around the counting centre to avoid crowding. Victory celebrations and processions after the results are banned. Standard COVID-19 protocol will be observed during the counting, said a release from him.
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