Chennai deserted as 12-day lockdown kicks in

Chennai: A 12-day lockdown without previous relaxations kicked in on Friday here and in a string of other localities in nearby three districts including Chengelpet with police deploying drones and intensifying patrols to check violations.

While arterial roads to neighbouhood streets were deserted, police placed barricades in key intersections and blocked free access to several main thoroughfares in the city and suburbs.

Shops selling essentials including vegetables functioned from morning till 2 pm and private vehicles and autos, taxis were off the roads.

Only some cargo trucks and vehicles related to essential services could be seen plying on roads and other key highways like the GST and GNT Roads in Chennai’s southern and northern periphery.

Under the lockdown, only essential services are allowed unlike the relaxations available previously and the restrictions made a comeback in view of continuing surge in virus cases in the city and its peripheral districts.

Ahead of the lockdown, hordes of people left the city to their native places inother parts of Tamil Nadu where curbs are not applicable.

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City Police Commissioner A K Viswanathan warned that vehicles including two-wheelers found violating lockdown norms will be seized and asserted that curbs will be strictly enforced.

Cooperation from people was good, he said and appealed to them to continue that for the success of complete lockdown to help prevent COVID-19 spread.

“During patrolling we found good cooperation from people in many areas. People, for buying essentials should walk to shops only in their neighbourhood.

If use of vehicles was found and if they go to far away areas, the vehicles will be seized,” he told reporters.

After inspecting a monitoring drill using a drone here, Viswanathan said drones, were also being to sensitise public about the need to stay indoors and follow norms apart from monitoring purposes.

Recorded messages are broadcast through loudspeakers fitted on the drones that have been deployed in several areas for effective monitoring, he said.

Vehicle checking and patrolling has been intensified, Viswanathan said adding people, if they venture out to buy essentials, should wear masks.

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The city police have put up checkposts in over 250 locations in the city and suburbs to check violations and implement lockdown effectively.

Shops selling vegetables and essential commodities should ensure implementation of norms including social distancing, and hygiene and in case of violations such outlets will be closed down, the senior police official said.

To a question, the commissioner said about 10 per cent of the police work force has been given rest and has been kept on standby as a reserve force.

The lockdown is applicable to Chennai city and suburbs in the districts of Chengelpet, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur and falling under the jurisdiction of Greater Chennai Police.

Curbs are also being implemented in localities including Gummidipoondi and Ponneri in Tiruvallur district and Chengelpet municipality areas, though such places do not come under the city police’s purview.

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