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Tamil Nadu to ease lockdown restrictions in Chennai, other parts from May 11

Tamil Nadu to ease lockdown restrictions in Chennai, other parts from May 11

Tamil Nadu announced on Saturday the easing of a host of restrictions beginning May 11, allowing 33% workforce to return to offices in Chennai, 24x7 petrol pumps on state and central highways and opening of tea-shops (except those in containment zones) across the state, even as the government moved the Supreme Court against the Madras high court's Friday order to close all state-run liquor outlets.

The state, which recorded 600 new cases on Friday, taking the total number of Covid-19 cases to 6009, has been hit by yet another spike in cases after a vegetable and fruit wholesale market in Chennai was declared as a hotspot. At least 1589 positive cases are now linked to the Koyembedu market cluster.

However the cabinet met on May 2 and discussed ways in which activities can resume in the state under the guildelines offered by the union ministry of home affairs.

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Starting Monday, shops selling essentials goods like vegetables and groceries will open from 6 am to 7 pm within Chennai corporation limits, while they will be permitted to stay open from 10 am to 7pm in the rest of the state. Similarly, standalone and neighbourhood shops will remain open from 10.30am to 6pm in Chennai, and 10 am to 7pm in the rest of the state. Tea shops can operate in all parts of the state, except within containment zones, however, customers would not be allowed to remain within the shops. Petrol pumps in Chennai region will be open from 6 am to 6 pm; but they will operate 24X7 on central and state highways. Private offices in Chennai region can operate with 33% workforce from 10.30 am to 6 pm. The government order did not specify if public transportation would be allowed in the state, but added that all restrictions and exemptions specified earlier would continue.

The state has categorized 12 districts, including Chennai, as red zones while the remaining 26 are orange zones.

The state had announced the opening of liquor shops run by Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC), a government firm which sells alcohol in the state, in all districts except Chennai on Thursday. Heavy rush was witnessed at most places with people standing in serpentine queues even as the move to allow sale of liquor came in for flak from opposition parties and others, who raised apprehensions that it would lead to further spread of the novel coronavirus.

However, a division bench of the high court took note of long queues and assembly of large crowds outside liquor shops, and ordered the closure of alcohol vending outlets in Tamil Nadu till the lifting of lockdown. The court observed that about 3,850 shops across the state were opened, and a record sale of Rs 175 crore was made.

"It is also reported that the number of police personnel being infected with Covid-19 disease is also on the rise and deploying them for controlling the crowded tipplers before the TASMAC shops would also put their life at risk, besides preventing them from discharging their duties in places, where their services are really required", the High Court had observed.

TASMAC on Saturday moved the Supreme Court challenging the order for closure of state-run liquor outlets on the ground that there was total violation of guidelines meant to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Witnessed at most places with people standing in serpentine queues even as the move to allow sale of liquor came in for flak from opposition parties and others, who raised apprehensions that it would lead to further spread of the novel coronavirus.

However, a division bench of the high court took note of long queues and assembly of large crowds outside liquor shops, and ordered the closure of alcohol vending outlets in Tamil Nadu till the lifting of lockdown. The court observed that about 3,850 shops across the state were opened, and a record sale of Rs 175 crore was made.

"It is also reported that the number of police personnel being infected with Covid-19 disease is also on the rise and deploying them for controlling the crowded tipplers before the TASMAC shops would also put their life at risk, besides preventing them from discharging their duties in places, where their services are really required", the High Court had observed.

TASMAC on Saturday moved the Supreme Court challenging the order for closure of state-run liquor outlets on the ground that there was total violation of guidelines meant to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

(Inputs and image from hindustantimes.com)

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