A 12-day "complete" lockdown started today in Chennai and parts of three adjoining districts of Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur and Chengalpattu, with the police using drones for surveillance and intensifying patrols to check violations.
The state government announced the lockdown on June 15 amid rise in coronavirus cases.
Health authority officials said it's a "make-or-break" situation in Chennai. "Six clusters in the city are still throwing up numbers. There would be strict enforcement. We've made it harder than lockdown 1.0 only because if we don't check the spread now, the increase rate would become exponential; situation would be difficult to control," a senior officer told NDTV.
On Thursday, Tamil Nadu registered 2,141 fresh cases of coronavirus. Of these, 1,373 were from Chennai, which accounts for 70 per cent of all cases in the state's total cases (52,334).
With almost 40,000 COVID-19 cases, Chennai is the third worst-hit city in the country after Mumbai and the city-state of Delhi.
The city wore a deserted look today as residents shuttered themselves inside their homes, hoping that their collective efforts would help break the chain of transmission.
Tamil Nadu: Chennai Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan & other Police officers monitor the situation in Chennai with using drones. Lockdown to remain imposed till June 30 in Chennai, Chengalpet, Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts in the wake of rise in #COVID19 positive cases pic.twitter.com/kqrNXCOK8T— ANI (@ANI) June 19, 2020
"Over the last four days, my family stocked enough essential items to last us during this period. We have to take this (lockdown) seriously and stay indoors to stop the spread of COVID-19. The daily coronavirus cases from Chennai are 1,000-plus numbers from Chennai are scary," said Guna, a young resident.
Till June 30, only shops selling food essentials, medicines and fuel stations would function between 6am and 2pm. The state has also announced an intense shutdown on the two Sundays during this period when only milk shops would be open.
Tamil Nadu: Only a few buyers seen at the temporary fish and vegetable market which has been set up at the football ground in Shenoy Nagar, Chennai as COVID-19 induced lockdown continues in Chennai, Chengalpet, Kancheepuram & Thiruvallur districts. pic.twitter.com/k3nngOjBsL— ANI (@ANI) June 19, 2020
According to government guidelines, private vehicles can't be used, except for emergency purposes. The government has also told people to walk and buy essential supplies from stores within 2 km radius.
All shops, except those selling vegetables, fruits, groceries and milk, would remain closed, as would slaughter houses and shops selling meat and fish. Tea shops will also remain closed, but restaurants have been allowed to process take-away food orders.
At the popular Amma Naana Store in the Boat Club area there is no panic buying, unlike Lockdown 1.0.
"Early announcement by the government helped people plan and prepare," Senthil Raj, the owner of the store, said.
Reaching out to the poor, the state government has said it will provide free food to the needy at all its Amma Canteens in Chennai and adjoining areas till June 30; usually these canteens supply food at a subsidised rate.
Eating at one such canteen in Santhome, a clothes' tailor and his daughter said they were relieved. "I have not had any work for the last two months. I've been begging friends and relatives for money. I've withdrawn my son and daughter from school. It's good that we are getting food for free," Rajini, who works for a tailoring shop, said.
However, the hundreds of migrant workers who remain stranded on the streets of Chennai since end of March have said they wanted to go home, but were stuck in the city because of lack of inter-state transportation.
Kumar, a construction worker from Coimbatore, has been without a job and stranded in the capital. The shelter people like me stayed at has also told us to vacate after the construction industry was allowed to reopen, he said, adding, "There are no buses to take us from Chennai to our homes. The police don't let us walk. I sleep on the beach at night, but police pick on us; it's horrible."