Tamil Nadu government on Thursday announced the extension of lockdown in the state till August 31 as the state registered more than 2.34 lakh Covid-19 cases, including 3,741 deaths. However, Chief Minister K Palaniswami has added more relaxations, including scaling up the workforce in private establishments and allowing dine-in services in hotels and restaurants.
Palaniswami reasoned that 'significant' number of COVID-19 cases had prompted the continuation of curbs. He also called for public cooperation towards strict adherence to wearing masks, social distancing and hand hygiene to contain the spread. Decision came after CM Palaniswami held discussions with District Collectors and a government-appointed medical expert panel.
Among the relaxations, the state government allowed increasing size of the workforce to 75 per cent in private establishments in non-containment zones which are under the Greater Chennai Police limits.
Tea stalls, restaurants and hotels can provide dine-in services with only 50 per cent of the capacity. Earlier, they were allowed to offer takeaway services only.
Dine-in services will be available from 6 AM to 7 PM, while takeaway can be provided until 9 PM.
On the religious front, temples with an annual income of less than Rs 10,000, dargahs, small mosques and churches will be open. Big places of worship and those in Corporation limits, will remain closed.
Palaniswami also said that extended total shutdown imposed across the state on Sundays will continue in August as well.
Independence Day celebrations will be held across the state on August 15 and will follow the Central government guidelines, he added.
Palaniswami, in a statement, said that existing ban on religious congregations, operation of public transport including Metro rail, shopping malls, theatres and bars and all kinds of political and sporting activities, inter-state public and private transport will also continue along with the e-pass system for travel.
Schools and educational institutions will remain closed but can continue with online learning. International aviation will also be banned but will continue for MHA allowed services.
Hotels and resorts will remain closed, except those accommodating medical personnel, government officials, cops and used as quarantine centres.
Shops selling groceries and vegetables can remain open from 6 am to 7 pm, with the government allowing an additional hour of business in the evening. All other shops can run from 10 am to 7 pm, he said.
E-commerce vendors can now supply both essential as well as non-essential goods.
The government asked companies to promote work from home culture.
The relaxations would not apply in containment zones.
Palaniswami said further relaxations could be given to the curbs depending upon the virus situation.