Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Saturday announced an intense lockdown from 4 a.m. on May 24 to 6 a.m. on May 31, with severe restrictions that will shut all shops, including provision and grocery stores.
To help the people stock up on essentials and travel to their home towns, the State allowed all stand-alone shops, except malls, to function till 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (May 23). It also allowed public and private long-distance buses to operate on these days.
The stringent lockdown is being enforced on the recommendation of an expert medical team that comprised, among others, leading infectious diseases specialist V. Ramasubramanian and public health expert P. Kuganantham. Mr. Stalin also chaired a meeting with a COVID-19 consultative panel, comprising legislators from all parties.
During the lockdown, medical shops, including indigenous medicine shops and veterinary pharmacies, will function. Supply of milk and water, distribution of newspapers and functioning of media organisations will remain uninterrupted.
“Fruits and vegetables shall be provided to the public through the Horticulture, Agriculture and Marketing Departments in all districts on mobile vehicles in coordination with the local bodies,” a Government Order, issued by Chief Secretary V. Irai Anbu, said in the evening.
Inter-district travel shall be permitted only for medical emergencies and funerals “with e-registration”. No e-registration is required for intra-district travel for medical emergencies.
While e-commerce services will be permitted from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., restaurants, hotels and bakeries will be allowed to offer parcel services in three slots daily — 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.; noon to 3 p.m.; and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food delivery will be allowed through entities such as Swiggy and Zomato during this schedule.
The staff members of private organisations, insurance companies and IT/ITES companies “may work from home”, the order said, allowing banks to function with one-third of their staff. ATM and related banking services will be permitted.
There will be no disruption to the functioning of petrol and diesel bunks as well as LPG deliveries. Transport of agricultural produce, inputs and essential commodities will be permitted. Only those Departments handling essential services at the Secretariat and the Collectorate shall function.
“Continuous process industries and industries manufacturing essential commodities [as listed in the GO dated April 20], along with in-situ construction works, are permitted...,” the order said.
Earlier, Mr. Stalin said the infection was likely to peak by May-end or in the first week of June. “We have to take steps to prevent more infections and deaths,” he said at the meeting, attended by Mr. Irai Anbu and Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan, among others.