Dehradun | Jagran News Desk: Amid a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, Uttarakhand - where assembly elections are scheduled to be held in February or March this year - on Friday prohibited all political rallies and protests in the state till January 16.

With this, Uttarakhand became the first poll-bound state to prohibit political rallies amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. This comes after the Uttarakhand High Court has asked the Election Commission (EC) whether it was possible to hold virtual rallies and provide online voting method amid spike in COVID-19 cases.

A division bench of the High Court comprising acting Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar Misra and Justice NS Dhanik posed the question to the EC while hearing a PIL on Wednesday seeking postponement of the upcoming Assembly polls in Uttarakhand in view of the rising cases of COVID-19 and its latest variant Omicron.

More restrictions in Uttarakhand:

Besides banning rallies, the Uttarakhand government has also closed all schools and Anganwadi centres in the state till January 16. In a late-night order, the state government has also ordered restaurants, shopping malls, stadiums and cinema halls to operate only at their 50 per cent strength.

Gyms, spas, sports institutions, stadiums, playgrounds, auditoriums and saloons can also operate only with 50 per cent strength. However, all swimming pools and water parks will remain closed till January 16.

In weddings and funerals, only 50 per cent of guests would be allowed, the new guidelines said, adding that the night curfew will remain in force from 10 pm to 6 am.

COVID-19 situation in Uttarakhand:

Uttarakhand over the past few days has been witnessing a spike in COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, it reported 630 new cases, the highest single-day rise in seven months. The state had reported 892 cases on June 4 last year.

Dehradun district led the Thursday tally with 268 cases, followed by Haridwar with 119, Nainital 85, Pauri with 72 and Udham Singh Nagar with 35 cases, the state health department said.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma