In the wake of increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state, the Tamil Nadu government is considering extending the lockdown till the end of May. Sources in the AIADMK tell TNM that the lockdown could continue at least till May 29, but with a variation in the rules currently put into force.
The decision is being mulled after the health expert team appointed by the government, recommended a phased easing of the lockdown.
"The extension in lockdown will apply for all red zones till the end of May," says the source in the ruling party. "But there will be different regulations. Chennai is definitely part of this extension list," he adds.
The new regulations are likely to see easing of restrictions that are currently in place, especially for industries and offices to work with a larger force of people. However, malls, gyms and theatres are likely to remain closed. A decision on whether to reopen public transport is also likely to be taken. The signs of an extension meanwhile are already in place, with the Chief Minister requesting the Centre not to resume regular train and flight services till the end of May.
"We need to focus on the economy as well at this point and slowly start increasing workforces," says an AIADMK source. "As far as public transport is concerned, the plan is to allow for one-third of the buses that ply on main roads to start functioning. There will be a definite easing down of restrictions," he adds.
In Chennai meanwhile, Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan extended prohibitory orders for 15 days under section 144 of the CrPC on Thursday. The commissioner exercised his executive magistrate powers and ordered the regulations which involve no public gatherings including assemblies or meetings, within the Chennai police's jurisdiction till May 28.
On Thursday, for the first time in 10 days, Tamil Nadu reported less than 500 COVID-19 cases. The stateās COVID-19 total, however, stands at 9,674, the second highest in the country. Chennai saw 363 patients on Thursday, taking its total to 5,637