Tamil Nadu extends coronavirus lockdown till May 31, but with relaxations

Health workers conduct thermal screening of passengers who have arrived from Delhi by a special train at Howrah station, during the ongoing COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, in Kolkata
Tamil Nadu on Sunday extended the Covid-19 lockdown till May 31, subject to certain relaxations in the restrictions.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said that based on the views expressed by - the medical expert committee, district collectors and senior ministers - the lockdown had been extended till the midnight of May 31 in the state.

He added, however, that relaxations had been made only for 25 districts – Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Tiruppur, Namakkal, Karur, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tenkasi, Kanyakumari, Theni, Madurai, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram, Dindigul, Pudukkottai, Trichy, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Vellore and the Niligiris.

According to the the state government release, while e-passes will not be needed for vehicles within the district, they would be required for inter-district travel. The release added that only 20 passengers would be allowed in a bus, 7 in vans, three in case of sports utility vehicles and two persons in case of small cars, operated by private companies or for government work.

Taxis can be hired without e-passes for intra-district travel in case of emergencies and 100 per cent workforce has been allowed for MNREGA work.

For factories located outside Chennai, 100 per cent workforce has been allowed for factories with less than 100 workers. For factories with more than 100 workers, the workforce allowed is 50 per cent of the total workers, subject to a maximum of 100 workers.

Coaching for national and international sporting events are allowed with the permission of district collectors. In the 12 districts where intra-district transport is not allowed, plying of taxis and autorickshaws has been allowed with e-passes, but only for medical emergencies.

Palaniswami said the government would announce further relaxations once the spread of coronavirus was reduced.

He also said that steps were being taken to bring back Tamils stranded in other states by trains in stages and with Central government's permission, two Rajdhani express trains between New Delhi and Chennai would be operated every week.

According to Palaniswami, all other restrictions, currently in force, would continue till further orders.
The state also said it would obtain special permission from the Center to operate train/air/bus services.

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