Chennai: Chennai and three adjoining districts have geared up for a 12-day total lockdown from Friday with hordes of people making a last minute attempt to leave for other places on Thursday and shoppers thronging the marketplace to stock up on goods they fear may become scarce in the days to come.
The lockdown from June 19 to 30, which is aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, would have more restrictions on the movement of people than earlier, as the government has announced a total ban on private vehicles without valid passes and legitimate reasons plying on roads.
Thursday evening saw thousands of individuals and families taking to the roads. However, those who did not have e-passes were not allowed to leave the city borders. They were either detained or made to return home.
With people also making a last minute bid to shop, the roads in Chennai witnessed heavy traffic. However, for the businesses, commercial establishments and services that reopened recently after a prolonged period of closure, the 12-day lockdown would once again leave many people without jobs and livelihoods.
On the two Sundays that fall within the lockdown period, on Jun 21 and 28, there would be no commercial activity at all but for milk supply, hospitals, pharmacies, ambulances and funeral services.
On the other days, shops selling groceries and vegetables would be allowed to be open from 6 am to 2 pm. But people would have to find a shop within a two km radius and cover the distance by foot and not on vehicles.
Even other transport vehicles like taxis and autorickshaws would not be allowed to operate during the entire lockdown period. Pre-paid vehicles carrying train and air passengers would be exempted from the ban, as aslo private and commercial vehicles used for medical purposes.
Hospitals, pharmacies and ambulances would be exempted from the lockdown rules, under which supply of milk and water and delivery of food would not be affected within the stipulated hours.
STALIN SLAMS MOVE
The total lockdown would not help curb the spread of coronavirus but would only worsen the economic situation, thus making it a double loss for the state, DMK President MK Stalin said on Thursday.
Urging the government to procure more test kits and increase testing for COVID-19, Stalin said that test kits have not been provided in adequate numbers to the districts, other than Chennai, thus restricting them in carrying out tests.
The state is facing a challenge now only because not adequate tests were done all over the state right from the beginning. The district-wise figures on tests conducted were released only once, Stalin pointed out and asked the government to make the numbers transparent.
Though the government has been claiming to have conducted most number of tests, the state ranks only fourth if the population is taken into account, he said, adding that the state government has conducted only 6,400 tests per 10 lakh people.
Since one in 10 persons has tested positive, there is a need for increasing the tests all over the state, he said.