The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday, January 5, announced a slew of restrictions in view of the COVID-19 surge in the state. A night curfew has been announced from 10 pm to 5 am and on Sundays, there will be a lockdown. The restrictions will be in force from January 6, Thursday. The order came after Chief Minister MK Stalin met state Health Minister Ma Subramanian, Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan and state public health officials, including TS Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, on Tuesday, January 4.
During the night and weekend curfew, all shops, hotels and other establishments will not be permitted to function. Essential services, including private and bus services, milk and newspaper delivery, hospitals, ATMs, petrol and diesel pumps etc will be allowed to function.
The state government also said that the metro rail will not function on Sundays and during the night curfew. However, restaurants are allowed the option of takeaway from 7 am to 10 pm. The public will be allowed to travel during 10 pm and 5 am on all days only if they are travelling to and from bus and train stations and airports, and will have to show proof of travel. All public transport, including metro, buses etc, will function at 50% capacity.
As far as educational institutions are concerned, there will be no classes for LKG and UKG, while only online classes will be held for classes 1 to 9. Physical classes will be allowed for Class 10, Class 11 and Class 12, because of upcoming examinations and to ensure that they get vaccinated. All colleges, except medical and paramedical colleges, will be closed till January 20.
The Government Order also said that only 100 people will be allowed in case of weddings, while the limit for funerals is 50. The state government said that theatres, shops, gyms etc will only be allowed to operate with 50% occupancy. Amusement parks will remain shut.
Beaches will be open to the public but only for walking. Religious places will be open but people will not be allowed to enter on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. All Pongal festivities and cultural fests in colleges, rallies and religious gatherings will not be allowed.
New COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu have risen from 1,728 cases on Monday to 2,731 cases on Tuesday while the test positivity rate rose from 0.7% on December 30 to 2.6% on Tuesday showing a quantum jump in infected cases. In Chennai alone, new COVID-19 cases increased to 1,489 from 876 cases on Monday. This, according to state health officials, accounts for 55% of the total infected cases of Tamil Nadu.
In a statement on Tuesday, Stalin appealed to the people of Tamil Nadu to be vigilant and inoculate themselves at the earliest. He also urged the people to adhere to COVID-19 protocols, including wearing masks, physical distancing, sanitising and washing of hands regularly to prevent the spread of the infection.
On Wednesday morning, Tamil Nadu Health Minister told IANS, "The state Health Department will issue certain guidelines regarding the measures to be taken to contain the infection which has shown a rise in COVID-19 cases. Already the third wave is on and people must strictly follow the directives given by the Health Department to prevent the infection from spreading in large numbers. There is no reason to worry but one has to be cautious and take necessary precautions following the COVID-19 protocols."
With IANS and PTI inputs