Long queues outside Chennai, Coimbatore grocery stores ahead of curfew (Ld)

Chennai, April 25 (IANS) Long queues were seen outside grocery shops in five cities with people wanting to stock up their needs as total lockdown is set to kick-in in from Sunday onwards.

In order to enable people to buy their needs in those cities Chief Minister K.Palaniswami ordered essential shops to be open till 3 p.m. on Saturday.

During lockdown essential shops were allowed to function between 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.

With the risk of coronavirus spreading further in densely populated cities, Palaniswami on Friday ordered total lockdown in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Salem and Madurai.

Long queue was seen outside the Amudham Stores and other grocery shops in Chennai and in other four cities.

There was increase demand for milk packets at Aavin outlets. The buyers were asked to come in the afternoon when the supplies would arrive.

Similarly vegetable shops too saw long queues though the government had said mobile shops will be allowed to sell veggies.

The total lockdown decision in five cities was taken after Palaniswami chaired a review meeting on the coronavirus spread in the state on Friday.

Palaniswami said in Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai the lockdown will be implemented strictly between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. from April 26-29.

He said in the case of Tiruppur and Salem the lockdown will be between 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. from April 26-28.

According to him, sanitisation of containment zones will be done twice a day in the state.

He said only work from home is permitted for software companies and other private companies should not function in these five districts.

The Chief Minister also ordered the closure of registration department offices while allowing only the following to function:

– Hospitals, diagnostic test labs, pharmacies, ambulance and hearse services;

– Essential services departments in the state secretariat, health, revenue, disaster management, electricity, milk, water supply departments;

– Other central and state government offices with 33 per cent staff strength;

– Government run Amma Canteens, ATMs;

– Old age homes and orphanages;

– Community kitchens run by district/local administrations;

– Service organisations for the benefit of poor with government permission and

– Vegetable markets, mobile vegetable shops will run subject to regulations.

On Friday, the death toll in Tamil Nadu due to Covid-19 went up to 22.

–IANS

vj/in