ELD urges parties to keep safe distance
It tells them to consider leaving area if supporters become too effusive
Political parties and candidates are being enlisted to ensure the safety of voters at the hustings, with the Elections Department (ELD) urging them to not only keep a safe distance themselves but to also advise their voters to do so.
This means that when voters or supporters become too effusive and the parties cannot control the crowd, they may want to consider disengaging and leaving the area in the interest of public health, the ELD said yesterday.
A day after the Writ of Election was issued, outreach activities were ramped up, and yesterday, the ELD gave more details on how potential candidates should conduct themselves during nomination proceedings and campaigning.
There were rules set out in the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020, and also best practices.
At an online media briefing attended by ELD representatives as well as National Environment Agency chief executive officer Tan Meng Dui, who will be the election's returning officer, the ELD said the same Health Ministry guidelines that apply to the public will also apply to the political candidates.
An issue that has caused confusion is the wearing of masks, with some candidates keeping them on at all times and others removing them when posing for photos.
Yesterday, the ELD said candidates have to follow the Health Ministry's rules on mask-wearing and should keep their masks on when they are taking photos or talking to others.
An exception to the mask rule is when candidates are eating or drinking at hawker centres.
Even then, they should minimise talking as a best practice, to reduce the risk of droplets spreading, the ELD added.
Another instance where they may remove their masks is when they are recording, say a doorstop interview, for only a few minutes, and this is done in places where they can keep a safe distance of at least 1m away from others.
Since the general election was called on Tuesday, many parties have hit the campaign trial on walkabouts while keeping their groups to no more than five people.
The ELD acknowledged this, saying it shows campaigning can be done while respecting the safety measures in place.
Members of the public can play their part too, said the ELD, suggesting that people watch political broadcasts at home, and avoid gathering or loitering near nomination centres during nomination proceedings.
Encouraging candidates to take their temperature daily and to stay home if they are unwell, the ELD said: "All political parties and candidates are strongly encouraged to exercise positive leadership and set a good example to the public, by following these best practices.
"Political parties and candidates must also follow advice from safe distancing ambassadors and safe distancing enforcement officers."