Chennai: With Tamil Nadu witnessing a sharp increase in the COVID-19 cases, the government on Saturday announced clamping a two-week “total lockdown” across the state to curb the spread of the pandemic, starting May 10.
Chief Minister M K Stalin said in a statement that the lockdown was being enforced due to “unavoidable reasons” and pointed out that the decision was taken based on inputs received at a review meeting he had with district collectors on Friday, besides consultations with medical experts.
The recommendations made by the Union Home and Health ministries had also been factored in.
“The total lockdown will be enforced from 4 am on May 10 to 4 am on May 24 to further intensify the efforts to curb the spread of the disease,” he said.
Stalin announced relaxing existing restrictions on business hours for shops on Saturday and Sunday, when a full day-long lockdown is supposed to be in effect, allowing them to remain open till 9 pm to aid people since stricter curbs would kick in from May 10.
The state-run liquor outlets operated by Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC), all bars, spas, gyms, beauty parlours, saloons, auditoria, cinema theatres, recreation clubs and amusement and zoological parks will be shut during this period.
Beaches and tourist attractions in the hilly locations of Udhagamandalam and Kodaikanal will be out of bounds for people.
Offices of government departments other than those dealing with essential services including Health, Revenue, Police, Fire and Rescue Services and Disaster Management will not function, he said.
All private offices and companies and IT and ITES firms shall also remain closed and employees can work from home.
Existing restrictions regarding places of worship, a cap on attendees in wedding and death-related events will continue while educational institutions will remain closed.
Inter and intra-district public and private bus services will be suspended while hire taxies and auto rickshaws cannot ply.
Those travelling for essential work like wedding, death, interview or exams shall produce proof to be allowed permission to proceed, the chief minister added.
Standalone shops selling vegetables, groceries, provision items, fish and meat products can remain open till 12 noon with only fifty percent customers.
E-commerce firms distributing these can do so till noon, he added.
“Other than the aforementioned shops, no other establishments can run,” during the lockdown, Stalin said.
There shall be no dine-in services in hotels and tea shops and the former can sell takeaways in staggered working hours through the day. Tea stalls have to down shutters by noon.
Among those allowed to work during the lockdown period include media, courier firms, hospitals and related services, fuel outlets, continuous process industries, data centers, and telecom services, he said.
State-run Amma Canteens will remain open, platform vendors selling vegetables and flowers can do so till 12 pm and fair price shops will work from 8 am to 12 noon, he said.
Stalin urged people to follow the covid protocols and extend cooperation to the government’s pandemic prevention activities.
Tamil Nadu saw 26,465 new coronavirus cases on Friday, pushing the caseload to 13.23 lakh while a record 197 deaths in the last 24 hours took the toll to 15,171.
According to the health department, the active cases stood at 1,35,355.
Stalin said 23 districts in the state had a positivity rate of 10 percent.