Chennai: Tightening restrictions further in select urban areas to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami on Friday announced a complete shutdown beginning Sunday in Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai for four days, disallowing grocery shops as well and fully curtailing the movement of the public.
Also, Salem and Tirupur in western Tamil Nadu will be shut similarly, albeit for three days from April 26 and Palaniswami assured people that vegetables and fruits shall reach their doorsteps via mobile outlets.
The district collectors of Chengelpet, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram have separately issued directions for implementing the full lockdown in their respective areas which are close to Greater Chennai Corporation neighbourhoods and falling under the jurisdiction of Chennai police.
Suburban Tambaram and Madambakkam in Chengelpet district, Avadi and Poonamallee in Tiruvallur district and Kundrathur and Ayyappanthangal in Kancheepuram district are among the localities that will be shut, the respective district authorities said.
"To vend vegetables and fruits, only mobile outlets shall be allowed," the CM said.
The government had already made mobile outlets (mini trucks and tri-cycles) selling vegetables and fruits operational in urban regions and Palaniswami had time and again appealed to people to buy food staples for at least a week and eliminate the need to visit local markets every day.
Following a review meeting on the COVID-19 scenario in the state, Palaniswami said public health and medical experts have opined that imposing further restrictions in urban regions alone will help prevent the spread of contagion.
Government-run Tamil Nadu Co-operative Milk Producers' Federation (Aavin), meanwhile, announced that it has inked a pact with online food delivery aggregators Zomato and Duzo to distribute its flagship milk brand 'Aavin' and other dairy products including ghee directly to consumers in Chennai from its 21 hi-tech parlours effective today.
Till date, Tamil Nadu has 1,755 confirmed COVID-19 cases and Chennai topped the list with 452 infected people followed by Coimbatore (141) and Tirupur (110).
Madurai and Salem have 56 and 30 cases respectively.
The government has, hence, decided to tighten curbs under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 in select urban regions based on expert opinion, the chief minister said in an official release.
"The lockdown will be fully implemented in the Corporation areas of Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai from 6 am on April 26 till 9 pm on April 29," Palaniswami said adding Salem and Tirupur Corporation zones will see similar complete lockdown between Sunday 6 am and Tuesday (April 28) 9 pm.
In all other areas of Tamil Nadu, the curbs already in place will continue to be in force, Palaniswami said and appealed to the people to fully cooperate to halt the spread of COVID-19.
He said the movement of people will be fully curtailed in the listed urban areas adding in case of violations, tough action will be taken and vehicles seized.
While groceries and vegetable shops are now being allowed to operate till 1 pm daily, such outlets will not be permitted to function from April 26 and vegetables and fruits shall be made available to people through mobile outlets, the government said.
During these days of intensified curbs, disinfection tasks will be carried out twice in containment zones and only Amma Canteens, ATMs, hospitals, labs, pharmacies and allied services like ambulances shall be functional.
Home delivery of food alone is permitted from restaurants, the government said and listed community kitchens and aid for the indigent people (with approval from authorities) under the limited activities that are allowed.
State government offices carrying out essential functions including the Secretariat will operate with only requisite staff and similarly, banks and Central government offices may employ only 33 per cent of employees.
While employees in sectors like information technology could work from home, other private sector firms shall remain closed, the government said....