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Infectious diseases committee drafts protocol on election process activities: health minister

The Committee for Infectious Diseases has drafted a protocol on election process activities, Health Minister Venko Filipche said at a press conference Thursday.

Skopje, 14 May 2020 (MIA) – The Committee for Infectious Diseases has drafted a protocol on election process activities, Health Minister Venko Filipche said at a press conference Thursday.

Protocol provisions are in line with established coronavirus preventive measures, such as wearing face masks and social distancing.

Filipche expressed hopes that political stakeholders will abide by the protocol.

“The protocol was unanimously endorsed by all members of the Committee for Infectious Diseases and it must be fully implemented to protect public health. Political leaders underlined at the meeting Tuesday that public health is their top priority, therefore I expect that all participants in the election process will respect the protocol. Protocol provisions are in line with established coronavirus preventive measures, set to remain in force in the coming period,” the Minister said.

The protocol, Filipche underlined, was requested by President Stevo Pendarovski, following Tuesday’s leaders’ meeting. It does not, however, specify when the election will be held, as this decision is up to political stakeholders to make.

Furthermore, the protocol covers four areas of the election process: pre-election, campaign, party meetings, and polling day activities.

On polling day, election board members, observers, and voters will be obliged to wear protective equipment, use hand sanitizer, and maintain two-meter distance from others.

“Only a certain number of people will be allowed to enter the polling station at the same time. The State Election Commission (SEC) has also been advised to extend the polls closing time by two hours,” Filipche said.

Coronavirus preventive measures will have to be implemented during pre-election activities, rallies, and door-to-door canvassing, as well.

Party meetings will have to be held outdoors whenever possible, while no more than two volunteers will be allowed to hand out campaign leaflets at the same booth.

The protocol is to be submitted to President Stevo Pendarovski and Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski.

Regarding the coronavirus situation in North Macedonia, Filipche told the news conference that the number of new cases is decreasing, the epidemic is under control, and the situation has significantly improved.

“We can see now the positive effects of harsh restrictive measures. Although the situations has improved, projections show that the virus will be around for a while. This will change only when a vaccine is developed and the population builds up collective immunity,” Filipche said.

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