The Election Commission of India on Friday extended the silence period from 48 hours to 72 hours in each of the remaining three phases of the West Bengal Assembly elections, it said in a press release.
EC furthermore curtailed the timing of campaigning up to 7pm from earlier 10pm, banning rallies and public meetings from 7pm to 10am beginning Friday amid the rise in Covid-19 numbers.
"In view of the unprecedented public health situation and the imperative of ongoing elections, Commission today extended the silence period upto 72 hours (instead of 48 hours) and restricted the period of campaign up to 7PM (instead of 10PM)," the statement read. These orders come into effect immediately.
EC has directed political parties and candidates to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, and provide masks, sanitizers, etc., to the participants and account for the cost in expenditure limits.
"Candidates and political parties shall ensure absolute adherence to Covid-19 guidelines in letter and spirit," the statement read. "Violations, if any shall be sternly dealt with and action, including criminal action, will be taken as per extant legal framework."
West Bengal on Thursday recorded the highest single-day spike of 6,769 Covid-19 cases, pushing the tally to 6,36,885, as per the state health department.