Gazetted Health Regulations for Elections are more relaxed than what was stipulated by the Health Department – CMEV
ECONOMYNEXT – Election watchdogs are expressing alarm that the Gazetted rules the August 5 election is to be conducted under are considerably more relaxed than the guidelines to avoid the spread of COVID-19 issued by the Health Services.
They point out that relaxing the regulations at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be worsening is a matter of serious concern.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) in a statement issued today pointed out that the Government Regulations issued on Friday, July 17 loosens the rules the Health Experts had wanted.
For instance, the number of persons permitted to attend election meetings was 100, according to the experts, but this has been increased to 300, and 500 if the Party Leader is present.
“Relaxing the restrictions on meeting attendance, depending on the attendance of party leaders, seems especially illogical,” CMEV said.
The maximum number of people allowed to go canvassing door-to-door has also been increased from 3 to 5.
The Gazette was issued 38 days after the guidelines were issued with only 18 days to go for the poll.
CMEV accused the government of partisanship and urged it to protect the people.
The watchdog body pointed out that “numerous provisions in the original guidelines have been omitted from the gazetted regulations altogether, including provisions relating to: checking and bundling of ballot papers at District Returning offices; polling booths; conducting the election in the quarantine centres; receiving ballot boxes at counting centres; counting centre etiquette; results tabulation centres; transport of staff and materials; special instructions for Police officers; disinfection; waste disposal; after the election.”
Also missing is the Health Administrative Structure outlined in section 7 to implement the guidelines.
Taking all this into consideration, CMEV requests the Minister of Health and Indigenous Medical Services and the Director-General of Health Services to:
Gazette the remaining provisions in the originally published guidelines, and
Provide an explanation to the voting public about why the originally published guidelines have been relaxed in this manner, and what steps they will take if the relaxed guidelines contribute to the pandemic situation becoming worse
Work with healthcare workers, particularly PHIs, to resolve existing issues and to promote the regulations and educate the public. (Colombo, July 19, 2020-sb)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana