The Tamil Nadu government on Monday extended till January 31, the existing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, including night curfew, and imposed fresh restrictions around Pongal festival.
As per the additional restrictions, members of the public will not be allowed inside ‘all places of worship’ across the State between January 14 and 18. Besides, a complete lockdown will be imposed on January 16, Sunday (during which essential services will be allowed).
In a statement, Chief Minister M. K. Stalin said in the interest of those travelling out of town for Pongal festival, buses would be allowed to operate with 75% seating capacity.
“All existing restrictions and relaxations would continue to be in place,” he said. The existing restrictions, include no direct classes for Standards I to IX; no classes for nursery and kindergarten sections; and no coaching and training classes. Besides, the book fair and exhibitions remain postponed, while travel in Metro Rail, suburban trains and bus (city/town) would be allowed only up to 50% of seating capacity.
Mr. Stalin said COVID-19 preventive measures would be monitored across the State and organisations and individuals found violating them would be penalised. He reiterated his appeal to those who had not taken doses of COVID-19 vaccine to visit the vaccination camps and take their jabs.
Mr. Stalin said Collectors and local bodies have been directed to undertake micro-level surveillance for tracking infection and implementing the Standard Operating Procedures issued. Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner and District Collectors should take action against commercial establishments/shops that continue to not follow the COVID-19 preventive measures.
“Since all necessary medical infrastructure to provide treatment are available, public need not have apprehensions over the increasing spread of COVID-19,” he said and appealed to people to step out only if it is essential and follow all safety protocols.
Earlier on Monday, Mr. Stalin chaired a meeting to review the COVID-19 and Omicron situation across the State. Health Minister Ma. Subramanian, Chief Secretary V. Irai Anbu, World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan and senior officials took part in the meeting.
He urged commercial establishments to provide sanitiser for customers and thermal screen them. Employees should ensure that customers wore facemasks, failing which, legal action would be initiated, he said.
Proprieters and employees of commercial complexes and shops should mandatorily possess their vaccination certificates. The CM also requested all shops to avoid using air-conditioning facilities and to ensure physical distancing norms.