Tamil Nadu, May 31, 2020 : The Tamil Nadu Government on Sunday announced further extension of the lockdown from June 1 to 30, but with relaxations in some areas like running public transport, companies and shops and restaurants.
It continued the ban on shopping malls, places of religious worship as well cinemas, liquor bars, amusement parks, swimming pools and gyms as well as tourist resorts like Nilgiris and Kodaikanal.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami, while by and large following the guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry and the norms set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation, retained certain restrictions like banning assembly of people under Sec 144 and limiting the number of mourners in a funeral to 20 and guests in weddings to 50.
In a relief to many, he allowed reopening of hair cutting saloons and beauty parlours even in Chennai and neighbouring districts which have become Covid hotspots, but with a number of restrictions to keep them germs free.
He said schools and colleges would remain shut, but they would be encouraged to go for e-learning or online coaching. Likewise, educational institutions of higher learning like research institutes would be allowed to function online.
He said a ban on air services would continue, except those allowed by the Union Aviation Ministry. Likewise, metro railway services will continue to be banned.
The most significant was relaxation on public transport which holds the key to restoration of new normal.
He said public transport would be allowed in all zones except Chennai and neighbouring Chengalpattu, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur which have a high incidence of Covid cases. However, inter-State and even inter-district running of government and even private buses would not be allowed.
The Chief Minister said the State would be divided into eight zones for the purpose of resumption of public transport services.
In other words, buses will run in six zones , but will be off the road in seventh and eight zones under which Chennai and the neighbouring districts fall.
He said that in the six districts even private buses will be allowed.
As no e-pass is needed for travel in private vehicles within a district, the same rule will apply to travelling in government buses.
However, buses can carry only 60 per cent of passengers. All should wear face masks, including drivers and conductors. The bus should be sanitised after every trip, he said
The Government has already issued a GO making e-pass compulsory for inter-State travel. It has also said those coming to Tamil Nadu by road, air or train will be tested and even those who test negative will be kept in home quarantine for a week. Others with symptoms will be confined to homes or institutions for two weeks.