Chennai, May 31, 2020 : Chennai which has been choked by four consecutive lockdowns can now breathe easy as the Tamil Nadu Government, while extending lockdown till June 30, has eased a lot more restrictions than those already lifted in the fourth phase.
The most important is that auto-rickshaws and call taxis will ply even in Chennai. Call taxis can carry three passengers except in containment zones and auto-rickshaws two.
This relaxation has been made as Government buses will continue to stay off the road in Chennai.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami in a press release on Sunday allowed not only IT and ITES companies to open, but also all private companies.
HE said IT and ITES firms can function with 20 per cent of their staff strength or a maximum of 40 employees. Likewise, private companies can resume with 50 per cent of its workforce. However, they should encourage staff to work from home to the extent possible.
Except malls, all big textile shops and jewellery marts can function with 50 per cent staff. They should switch off their air-conditioners and should serve only five customers at a time.
Following the Centre’s guidelines, the Tamil Nadu Government said restaurants, which were earlier allowed only takeaways, can now serve their customers, but upto 50 per cent of their capacity. They should switch off ACs and should ensure that customers observe social distancing.
Following the Centre’s approval, the Tamil Nadu Government also said tea shops and small eateries will be allowed to serve their customers in their shops from June 8, but only 50 per cent of their capacity at a time. They can also be kept open from six in the morning till 8 in the evening.
Likewise, vegetable shops and groceries will be allowed to function for longer hours, from six in the morning till eight in the evening.
Auto-rickshaws and call taxis can ply even in Chennai without e-pass unless it goes beyond the Chennai police limits. However, they will not be allowed to ply in containment zones. They can carry two passengers at a time.
Hair cutting saloons and beauty parlours will be allowed but without air-conditioning facilities. They should follow the guidelines , The barber as well as the customer should use hand sanitisers. On top of it, the barber should wear face masks. The shop should be sanitised several times in the course of its working hours.
Factories and private companies will be allowed to work with their full strength, the Chief Minister said.
When he reopened Government offices during the fourth phase, the Chief Minister ran chartered buses for the staff. Now that autos and call taxis are allowed, private company employees can commute in them or use their own vehicles as no e-pass will be needed for travel within the city.
Allowing fears that these relaxations will lead to further spread of Covid infection in Chennai which already has over 13,000 cases, the Chief Minister said several preventive measures would be taken.
He said measures would be taken on a war footing inChennai and neighbouring Chengalpattu, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur. Chennai would be divided into 15 zones and contact tracing would be intensified. Those, especially those in the vulnerable age group in containment zones would be given Vitamin C and zinc tables to boost the immunity.
Those living in these zones will be given kabasura kudineer ( a Siddha medicated water to treat those with phlegm and fever) and nutritious food.
If these are in congested, one-room tenements, they will be isolated in special containment zones for a week or so. Besides primary health centres and fever clinics would aggressively trace, test and treat those with symptoms as early diagnosis and treatment will reduce mortality.
Similar measures would be taken in equally badly affected Chengalpattu, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur.
The Chief Minister also announced an honorarium of Rs 2,000 each to conservancy staff who are also frontline warriors against Covid along with health personnel.
He said the war against Covid cannot be won without people’s cooperation. He appealed to them to wear face masks in public, wash their hands and maintain social distancing.