Election 2020

Myanmar’s Election Body Bans Campaigning in COVID-19-Hit Townships

By Htun Htun 8 September 2020

Yangon—Myanmar’s Union Election Commission (UEC) on Monday announced that political parties are barred from campaigning ahead of the Nov. 8 general election in areas where the government has issued stay-at-home orders.

The election campaign started on Tuesday (Sept. 8).

“Political parties shall not organize rallies and campaign in open places and buildings and conduct door-to-door campaigning where a stay-at-home order is imposed,” the UEC’s COVID-19 prevention guidelines said.

The Ministry of Health and Sports has issued stay-at-home orders in all 17 townships in Rakhine State and Yangon’s Thingangyun, Insein, North Okkalapa, Thaketa, Hlaing, Pazundaung and Mingaladon townships.

Health minister Dr. Myint Htwe predicted that COVID-19 cases will rise over the next fortnight, leading to stay-at-home orders in more townships.

The UEC asked political parties to follow the ministry’s guidelines, which will change during the campaign season.

Candidates who live in townships with stay-at-home orders who are contesting seats in other townships are likely to be restricted from campaigning.

The UEC said campaign vehicles are only allowed to fill half their seats and anyone with a temperature over 38°C or 100.4°F will be barred from vehicles. Anyone who has visited COVID-19 hotspots in the past 14 days or shown symptoms will not be allowed to campaign and must report to a health clinic.

Candidates looking to address gathering through a live stream must avoid enclosed spaces, limit numbers to 50, ensure attendees keep six feet apart, wear masks, face shields and provide hand sanitizer.

The UEC has limited door-to-door campaign teams to 15 and banned campaigners from the homes of anyone suspected of carrying COVID-19 and shaking hands and hugging at rallies.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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