Unveiling a series of major precautionary measures to check the spread of Novel Coronavirus in Tamil Nadu , Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday ordered closure of all educational institutions, malls, cinemas, amusement parks, gyms, zoos, swimming pools (including in apartments) and museums in the state till March 31. The order would come into effect from Tuesday.
However, “Board exams for Class 10, 11 and 12 and examinations in colleges and practical examinations and entrance examinations would be held as scheduled. Until the exams are completed, hostels for students and residential schools would continue to function,” an official release said. Government offices, medical and related educational institutions would function as usual.
After chairing a review meeting in the Secretariat in the evening, Mr. Palaniswami ordered the closure of all sports stadiums, clubs, bars (including those run by TASMAC) till March 31.
No major congregations, processions, public meetings, summer camps, conferences, seminars, commercial exhibitions, cultural events and sports meet would be permitted till the month end.
Resorts, which have to remain closed during the period, cannot accept any advance booking from guests till then.
The Chief Minister appealed to the people to avoid thronging temples , churches, mosques and other places of worships and going on tours. Marriage halls must not be rented out for any fresh ceremonies and at already planned events the gathering must be sparse.
Quarantine facilities near airport, Helpline
The Chief Minister said that as far as possible facilities would be established near the international airports in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchi and Madurai to quarantine Indians if they return from 14 countries from where arrival of foreigners has been banned by the Indian Government.
The government also said that 24-hour helpline can be accessed on the phone numbers 104, 044-29510400, 044-29510500, 9444340496 and 8754448477.
The government warned that those spreading false information or causing unwarranted panic over COVID-19 either in the form of news or on social media or any other form would be prosecuted under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Anganwadi centres would also be closed in Tamil Nadu till March 31 but dry rations for children in these anganwadis would be handed over to their parents.
“Other than those mentioned, all other essential and necessary activities would continue normally,” the release specified.
Noting that many private companies have given work-from-home options for their employees and since educational institutions would be closed, the Chief Minister said the people should not use the opportunity to go on tours or picnics.
Asked if the government would urge private companies to offer ‘work from home option’ to employees, a senior official said it was for the respective establishments to decide depending on the nature of work. “Since the option would not be feasible for companies into manufacturing and other sectors, it is up to them,” he said.
“Health experts are advising against gathering in large numbers in social functions and events. I request the general public to follow the advice,” he said.
Mr Palaniswami instructed officials in health, transport, police and respective district administration officials in border districts to organise screening equipment to screen passengers with thermal scanners at toll plazas.
He also wrote to the Railway Minister to advice the General Manager of Southern Railway to ensure cleaning of railway coaches and premises. He instructed the Commissioner of Revenue Administration (CRA) to ensure screening and precautionary measures in all border districts to check spread of the pandemic from neighbouring states. Places with central air conditioning are to be cleaned at least once a week.
CM’s request to the general public
- Avoid travelling out of the State, gathering in public places for the next 15 days.
- Avoid places of worships, beaches, commercial complexes, markets, weddings and other social functions.
- Ensure personal hygiene, wash hands with soap, while entering house and at regular intervals; avoid touching face with hands.
- Parents to ensure children don’t play in groups; to ensure that children wash their hands with soaps.
- All office-goers in government and private offices are to carry disinfectants for their personal safety.
- In case of cough or fever, avoid going to office and those with Coronavirus symptoms should proceed to government hospital immediately.