All passengers coming by road and by flight to Tamil Nadu need an e-pass, the state government has decided, in a slew of new rules for domestic and international passengers coming to the state. All passengers from states, except Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry, need an e-pass to enter the state.
An e-pass can be applied for on the website: https://eregister.
The move comes in the wake of high COVID-19 caseloads in states like Maharashtra and Kerala, even as Tamil Nadu has been witnessing an increase in the number of new infections over the past few days. A Government Order (GO) on the new travel rules was issued on March 4 by the Health and Family Welfare Department.
Travellers can visit the state after generating an e-pass, as this allows the government to trace them or their contacts, if they test positive for COVID-19 during their stay in Tamil Nadu. According to the GO, an auto e-pass is mandatory for all international and domestic passengers from other states and Union Territories. However, those from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry were exempted.
Last year, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tamil Nadu government had allowed only those with an e-pass to take up inter-district and inter-state travel, though the norms were relaxed later.
State Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan recently expressed concern over laxity shown by people in wearing masks, and the rising number of COVID-19 clusters among people who attended weddings or funerals.
On Monday, for the fourth consecutive day, Tamil Nadu logged over 500 cases, with a UAE returnee among them, pushing the tally of COVID-19 cases recorded till date to 8,55,677. Three fatalities took the toll to 12,521, the health department said on Monday. Recoveries, which were outnumbering new infections, were comparatively less with 532 people getting discharged, taking the cumulative number to 8,39,138, leaving 4,018 active cases. Over the last few days, the active cases have been hovering below 4,000.
Meanwhile, Radhakrishnan made a surprise inspection at vital junctions where people congregate in large numbers to check whether adequate COVID-19 protocols were being followed. After visiting popular shops in the famous Ranganathan Street in T Nagar, he urged people to wear masks and maintain social distance while venturing out of their homes.
He also added that with heavy caseloads in Maharashtra and Kerala, people should take the rise in cases in Tamil Nadu as a "warning sign" and extend their cooperation by adhering to the COVID-19 protocols.
Radhakrishnan inspected the shops along with Greater Chennai Corporation officials and later directed them to collect fines from people not wearing masks.
After Chennai, special emphasis was being laid in places like Coimbatore, Chengalpet and Thiruvallur, which were reporting an increase in cases, he said. In Coimbatore, according to The New Indian Express, travel e-pass became mandatory on Tuesday and the district administration has increased vigilance at six check posts on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border
Radhakrishnan said international travellers arriving in Tamil Nadu should hold a COVID-19 negative certificate taken 72 hours prior to their journey.
People coming from the United Kingdom should undergo a COVID-19 test on arrival and if they show any symptom of the contagion, would be kept in isolation, he said.
The health department has kept nearly 4,000 beds ready in Chennai to treat the infected and similar steps were being done in other districts to accommodate patients, he said.
Allaying fears of the spread of the virus, he urged people to extend their support to the government by adhering to the norms laid out by the health department.
Till date, Rs 13.05 crore has been collected as fine from 14.21 lakh people for not wearing masks, he said.
With PTI inputs