Tamil Nadu

Coronavirus unlock | Caution thrown to wind on lockdown-free Sunday in Chennai

People at the loop road of the Marina beach after several weeks of Sunday lockdown, in Chennai on September 6, 2020.   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

After nearly two months, the city witnessed its first lockdown-free Sunday on September 6.

As can be expected, personal distancing went for a toss as people ventured out for their morning walk on the Marina Beach, playing cricket and football in the play grounds across the city and purchasing fish in Kasimedu .

Also read: Coronavirus unlock 4 | Tamil Nadu announces several relaxations

From the time complete lockdown on Sundays was enforced in the city on June 21, as many as 11 Sundays have passed devoid of any activity as people stayed indoors. When the government extended the lockdown till September 30 with various relaxations, it also removed complete lockdown on Sundays.

With no restrictions in place, morning walkers took to Marina Service Road on Sunday morning. The road was busy with walkers, joogers and skaters. "Most of them had their masks on the jaw. Few helpless police personnel were watching people walk past them. It appeared as if the city had become COVID-19 free," said M. Jaishankar, an autorickshaw driver who had come to drop passengers.

Also read: Coronavirus lockdown | Tamil Nadu sticks with e-passes; Puducherry abolishes system

In the evenings, many families spend time on the beach sand without even wearing a mask. "Police patrol teams also warn these visitors and ask them to leave, but people continue to come. The police are unable to control as the number of visitors are more," said S. Ethiraj, a resident of Nochikuppam.

A huge crowd throng the Vanagaram Fish Market on September 6, 2020. After several weeks of Sunday lockdown, it was indeed free for all.

A huge crowd throng the Vanagaram Fish Market on September 6, 2020. After several weeks of Sunday lockdown, it was indeed free for all.   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan


Officially, the city’s beaches are still closed for the public.

Meanwhile, youngsters had a field day as after many months the grounds were open and they played cricket and football. The Somasundaram Ground in T Nagar was full of youngsters and many of them were not wearing masks.

"Grounds have been opened for morning walks with proper personal distancing. Now it is up to the public to follow safety measures and be cautious till the virus goes away. Though the government cannot be blamed, after seeing such incidents they can put in place some mechanism to monitor the crowd," said V.S. Jayaraman, a T. Nagar resident.

Also read: Coronavirus | Complete lockdown is like a speed breaker, says Tamil Nadu CM

Cricketing enthusiasts also flocked to smaller grounds in the city. "We were happy upon hearing that the grounds have been opened. Many who had come to play wore masks, and some did not. Most of them used a kerchief to cover their nose and mouth. We were not standing close to each other and the crowd was also lesser compared to the grounds in the city," said Raju, a youngster who was playing in a ground in Pallavaram.

People also played football in the ground behind the Foreshore Estate Police station. Many were not wearing masks, said residents.

Fish market

The Kasimedu fish market was completely packed and many were not wearing masks. Around 60 police personnel were deployed in the market to regulate the crowd. "But the public turned a deaf ear to our advice and some even fought with us. Now it is up to the people to follow discipline. We cannot do anything," said a police officer.

A similar situation prevailed in Vanagaram Fish market on Sunday morning. "It was more than the regular crowd in the market. Many, including the shopkeepers, were not wearing masks. Hence I returned without purchasing anything," said S. Sukumar, a resident of Madhuravoyal.

K. Bharati, South Indian Fishermens Welfare Association, said that people forgot about personal distancing probably because it was the first restriction free Sunday after a long time. "We should not forget that the government can impose restrictions again if there is a surge in cases. Hence people should maintain personal distancing and follow all safety measures while coming to the market," he said.

AIADMK membership drive

On the first lockdown free Sunday, the AIADMK membership drive was held at Madhavaram near the Municipality office around 10 a.m. P.Benjamin, Rural Industries Minister, was present at the event. More than 1,000 persons became members of the party. However, personal distancing was not followed. Men and women, wearing masks, were seen standing and sitting close to each other increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 4:00:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/coronavirus-unlock-caution-thrown-to-wind-on-lockdown-free-sunday/article32535051.ece

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