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President Ram Nath Kovind will stay at a private hotel in Shimla instead of the presidential retreat during his visit to Himachal Pradesh beginning Thursday. The change of venue came after four staff members of the retreat tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday.

The President during his four-day visit to Himachal Pradesh will address a special session of the state Assembly and will be the chief guest at the Valedictory Ceremony of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service at the National Academy of Audit and Accounts at Shimla.

President Kovid will stay at Cecil hotel at Chaura Maidan in the state capital instead of The Retreat - the President's residence at Chharabra on the outskirts of Shimla, an official told PTI.

All those who come in close contact with the President will have to carry a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test report even if they have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, he added.

Earlier today, Speaker Vipin Singh Parmar told media personnel that President Kovind would address the special session of the state assembly on Friday at 11 am to mark the golden jubilee of Himachal Pradesh's statehood.

Kovind will be the third President to address the Himachal Pradesh Assembly. Former presidents APJ Abdul Kalam and Pranab Mukherjee addressed the state Assembly in 2003 and 2013, respectively.

Apart from the sitting MLAs, all the former MLAs including former chief ministers Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal have been invited to attend the special session, Parmar said.

Nitety-three former MLAs, including Kumar and Dhumal, have given their consent to attend the special session, the Speaker added.

Five MPs from the state and seven former MPs will also attend the session, he said.

According to the schedule, the President will reach Annadale Helipad in Shimla on September 16 at 12 noon via Chandigarh from Palam airport Delhi. Subsequently, he will reach Cecil hotel at Chaura Maidan here at around 12.25 pm, the state government official said.

President Kovind will address the special session of the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha on Friday from 11 am to 12 noon, the official said.

In the evening on Friday, he will attend a cultural programme at 7.30 pm and banquet hosted by the state governor at 8 pm, he added.

On September 18, the President will be the chief guest at the Valedictory Ceremony of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS Officer Trainees of 2018 and 2019 batches) at the National Academy of Audit and Accounts at Shimla from 11 am to 12 noon, the official said.

On September 19, he will reach the Annadale Helipad at 11.15 am to leave for Palam airport in Delhi via Chandigarh. He will reach Rashtrapati Bhavan at 1.35 pm on Sunday, he said.

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