Chennai

Chennai goes into lockdown

Eight entry points to city closed; streets deserted

The usually bustling city wore a deserted look since Tuesday evening after the State came under a complete lockdown as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Policemen took over the streets after 6 p.m. to enforce Section 144 of Cr.PC and announcements were made on public address systems asking people to stay indoors.

As a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami announced restrictive measures in the State from 6 p.m on Tuesday till March 31. The public and private transport, including autorickshaws and taxis, will not be allowed to ply. There will be no inter-district and inter-State transport. Shops selling groceries, milk, vegetables, poultry and fish will remain open. All other shops should be shut.

In the evening, Police Commissioner A.K. Viswanathan issued the order under Section 144 of Cr.PC prohibiting assembly of more than five persons at public places in Greater Chennai police limits from 6 p.m. on March 24 to 6 a.m on April 1. Those who contravene the order will be subject to prosecution under IPC.

Speaking to media, Mr. Viswanathan said that eight entry points into the city will be closed. Corporation Commissioner G. Prakash said that only retail traders will be allowed into Koyambedu market. “If thousands enter the market, our sanitisation efforts will not bear fruit,” he said. Many thronged the vegetable markets and groceries since morning to stock up vegetables and essential commodities. After 6 p.m, the number of vehicles and people on the road gradually started reducing and by 8 p.m., the streets became deserted. The usually bustling Dr. MGR Chennai Central Railway Station wore a deserted look and usual sound of blaring train announcements fell silent. All the entries into the station were blocked by the police personnel. “I have never seen the station so empty in my lifetime. This shows the intensity of the problem,” said a policeman

No MTC buses

Though the lockdown was supposed to be from 6 p.m., MTC buses returned to their respective termini by 2 p.m. The Dr. MGR bus terminus was also shutdown around 4 p.m. and the entry points were barricaded. “On Tuesday alone, close to 500 inter-district buses were operated for people to reach their home towns,” said an official from the transport department.

Though the beaches were already shut for the public already, the arterial Kamarajar Salai was also barricaded and policemen advised the motorists to reach home at the earliest and stay indoors. The traffic police utilised two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporter to patrol the service lane. On Anna Salai too, the police asked shop keepers, other than those permitted, to down the shutters.

At important junctions, including Nandanam, policemen, with the help of public address systems, warned people to stay indoors and explained about the intensity of the virus. “If you are safe, your family will be safe. If you venture out, you are not only bringing danger upon yourself, but also on others,” said one of the messages.

Lines in front of shops

In Tiruvallur, the police will be making announcements through public address system and asking people to stay indoors. Tiruvallur police is planning to draw lines in front of shops selling essential commodities to ensure social distancing.

“People can purchase essential commodities. To regularise the crowd in front of these shops, we will be drawing lines in front of the shops. We will take action if more than three persons gather on the road,” said P. Aravindan, Superintendent of Police, Tiruvallur.

Meanwhile, B. Shamoondeswari, Superintendent of Police, Kancheepuram, said that a total of 32 teams, comprising a policeman, one revenue and one health official, has been formed. “They have been allotted different parts of the district and they will monitor ATMs and shops selling essential commodities. Lines have been drawn outside shops to ensure people maintain social distancing,” she said.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 2:47:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-goes-into-lockdown/article31157763.ece

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