The Election Commission on Saturday further relaxed COVID-19-induced restrictions on the assembly poll campaign in five states, allowing padayatras with a limited number of people and increasing the number of hours campaigning can take place in a day.

According to the poll panel, election campaign can now be conducted between 6 am and 10 pm instead of earlier 8 am to 8 pm.

This will give candidates and parties four more hours to campaign in a day.

Citing the rise in COVID-19 cases, the poll panel had imposed a ban on physical rallies, roadshows and padayatras when it announced the assembly poll schedule for Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur on January 8.

The commission has been reviewing the pandemic situation periodically and allowing some relaxations.

According to an EC statement, political parties and candidates can campaign outdoor with a maximum of 50 per cent of the capacity of the designated open spaces or the limit prescribed by state disaster management authorities, whichever is less.

So far the limit for such outdoor events such as meetings and rallies was 30 per cent of the open space or ground capacity.

On padayatra, the EC said such a gathering cannot consist of more people than the number permitted by state disaster management authorities.

The assembly polls began on February 10 and will conclude on March 7. The results will be declared on March 10.