The Tamil Nadu Government announced on Monday that the total lockdown now in force would continue till May 3 and only farm activities besides essential services will be exempt from the regulations. In the essential services are milk, electricity, hospital services and pharmacies.
A press release issued after Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami held a review meeting at the Secretariat on the suggestions of an expert committee on easing of restrictions for resumption of economic activities from Monday as per the Central guidelines, said as for now status quo would as the Coronavirus was far from under control.
The Centre said States were free to ease restrictions on farm activities like harvesting and transport of the produce, as well allowing rural artisans like electricians, plumbers and roadside mechanics to start working from Monday, of course depending on the situation in each State.
The Tamil Nadu Government said the regulations cannot be relaxed now as further efforts had to be made to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus in the State. In effect, it admitted that it was yet to flatten the curve.
On the contrary, with more testing of even suspect cases, another wave of new cases are coming to the surface. In the last 20 days alone, the number of cases has gone up from under 300 to over 1,372 now. The official toll is 15 with yet another doctor succumbing in Chennai on Sunday night. More than half of the 38 districts have high numbers Covid cases
The Government fears any relaxation of the curbs will lead to social transmission stage
As per the regulations in force since the last week of March, groceries, vegetable and fruit shops are allowed to function from six am to 1 p.m.
But all forms of transport are off. Malls, shops, cinema halls, multiplexes, and companies and factories are shut and many are working from home.
Educational institutions also remain shut, but School Education Minister K A Sengottayan has said tenth standard examinations will be held as scheduled, probably online.
Central and State Government and banks are open. But they function with limited staff to maintain social distances. Banks have advised customers to avoid visiting their branches and instead do all transactions online. Only ATMs are open.
As per the latest Central directive, registration offices were kept open in Tamil Nadu on Monday as part of the relaxation of the restrictions. But not even 50 per cent of the employees turned up and they complained that they could not register any property without the help of support staff.
As the Centre wants courier services to resume, Post Offices asked employees to report for duty or face pay cut. They asked how they could commute as public transport was off. Courier asked how they could carry the mail when train services were yet to resume.
The Centre also wanted the IT companies to resume, but the Tamil Nadu Government could not work out the logistics of transporting even 50 per cent of the staff. With public transport off, they wanted the companies to arrange their own special buses. Till now most of these IT companies used cabs to ferry staff. The State Government has ordered even Uber and Ola off the road.