Ahead of polling in Tamil Nadu on April 6, several WhatsApp forwards have been doing the rounds announcing 'lockdowns' and 'restrictions' to be imposed in the state. One message on social media that has gone viral on WhatsApp claims to list 'new restrictions' that will be imposed from 8 pm on Friday. This includes implementing Section 144 of the CrPC across the state, closing down public spaces like beaches, asking private employees to work from home and closure of temples, multiplexes, cinemas, etc. “New guidelines will be implemented from 8 pm on Friday, April 9 to April 30 (sic),” the message adds.
Denying that any such instructions for a lockdown have been given, Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan urged the public on Monday to not believe in baseless rumours and create panic. While the government is likely to announce restrictions after polling, as the Health Department is tackling an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases over the last month, officials have said that it would be a gradual process.
Here’s the full fake message that is going viral:
Tamilnadu Government Plan to imposes new restrictions — What's open, what's not
New guidelines will be implemented from 8 pm on Friday, April 9 to April 30.
1. Agriculture and agriculture-related activities, transportation of food grains and agricultural commodities will continue as usual.
2. Section 144 will be implemented across the state i.e, not more than five people will be allowed to gather during the day. Besides, a night curfew will be imposed from 8 pm to 7 am. During the night curfew, only people with valid reason can travel. Medical and other essential services have been excluded from this.
3. Public places like gardens, beaches etc. will be completely closed.
4. Except groceries, chemist shops, and other essential services, all other shops will remain closed till April 30. Shopkeepers and staff involved in essential goods and services should complete the vaccination as soon as possible and see to it that the rules are followed by themselves and the customers, the notification read.
5. All types of public and private transport will continue on a regular basis. Authorised Cab drivers and two passengers can travel. Standing passengers will not be allowed in public and private buses.
6. Private offices will be required to work entirely from home. Only banks, stock market, insurance, pharmaceuticals, mediclaim, telecommunications, as well as local disaster management, electricity, and water supply offices will remain open.
7. 50 per cent attendance in government offices. Visitors will not be allowed in government offices.
8. Recreation areas will be closed. Cinemas, multiplexes, theaters, video parlors, clubs, swimming pools, sports complexes, auditoriums, water parks will be completely closed.
9. Places of worship of all religions will be closed for devotees and visitors.
10. Restaurants and bars will be completely closed. However, take away or parcel service will continue from 7 am to 8 pm. Food vendors on the side of the road will be able to continue their business from 7 am to 8 pm only for parcel service.
11. E-commerce services will be allowed to operate. All delivery representatives should be vaccinated/RT-PCR test before delivery of products or else fine the person will be fined Rs 1000 and the concerned shop or organization will be fined Rs 10,000.
12. All salons, beauty parlors, spas will be closed. The staff here should be vaccinated as soon as possible.
13. Newspaper printing and distribution will continue as usual but vendors should be vaccinated.
14. Schools and colleges will remain closed. However, Entrance exams will be an exception. All private classes will be closed.
15. The industry and manufacturing sector will continue, but the management should take care that the guidelines are followed.
16. Film shootings will continue but not in crowds should not be included and RTPCR test certificates are mandatory for all staff and people at the shooting site.
17. Construction workers are required to stay at the place where the work is underway. Only materials will be allowed to be transported.
18. If more than five COVID-19 patients are found in a society, the building will be declared as mini containment. Placards will be erected, outsiders will not be allowed.
Speaking to TNM, the Health Secretary stated that no such advisory has been issued and that people should not believe any news that doesn't come from official means of communication.
"People should not panic and believe any rumours that are doing the rounds," the Health Secretary said. "There will be step by step restrictions imposed for non-essential activities. This would mean there can't be thousands of people gathering for weddings and funerals. We need to avoid unnecessary cultural activities and travel. But all this will be done step by step," he added.
Tamil Nadu recorded 3,581 positive cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. With this, the state's overall tally of cases rose to 8.99 lakh. Among these, Chennai reported 1,344 positive cases and 14 deaths on Sunday, putting the state toll at 12,778.
On Sunday, Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) Commissioner G Prakash too had said that there would be certain restrictions in the city, once the voting was over, in a bid to bring the surge in cases under control by the end of April.