Tamil Nadu: Buses back on road; malls, places of worship reopen in Chennai

Tamil Nadu on Tuesday reported 5,928 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking the overall tally to 4,33,969.

After more than five months, the operation of buses resumed across Tamil Nadu to a lukewarm response from passengers. Places of worship, parks, shopping malls, hotels and clubs too reopened on Tuesday.

Buses were sanitised before they were brought out of depots, while drivers and conductors started work after a temperature check. At several places, workers offered prayers and broke pumpkins, a customary practice to ward off the evil eye, before hitting the roads.

Transport Minister M R Vijayabhaskar said only a few people used the services on the opening day, and that more buses would be resumed after looking at people’s response in the days to come. Out of the fleet strength of about 22,000 in state-run transport corporations, 6,090 buses were operated today within the confines of each district. Services are open upto 9 pm, he told reporters.

A Metropolitan Transport Corporation official said of the fleet strength of over 3,000 buses here, about 2,000 were operated, adding “there were very few people in most routes.” On June 1, after a hiatus of 68 days, government-run buses resumed operations in a limited manner in Tamil Nadu except for Chennai, Chengelpet, Kancheepuram, and Tiruvallur.

In the state capital and three nearby districts, buses that were operated on March 24 have restarted services only now. The government, for transportation purposes, had divided the state into eight zones (comprising a number of nearby districts), and allowed public transport buses within the zones, doing away with the need for e-pass for intra-zone journeys. However, the inter-district or intra-zone public transport bus services were later withdrawn as COVID cases increased.

Though the government had allowed the opening of small-sized places of worship since July, larger religious places, including the Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple, opened today. The famous Ramanathaswamy temple in Rameswaram also opened today. Devotees were allowed inside after temperature check and hand sanitizing at the entrance. Steps were taken to ensure that social distancing was maintained inside the temple premises, the authorities said.

Temples were decorated with plantain and mango leaves, sanitizers were provided and the floors had “circle markings” to ensure a queue to maintain social distance. The government has said worship shall be allowed only upto 8 pm and prohibited large gatherings. Also, as per the Standard Operating Procedure, “no physical offerings like prasad / distribution or sprinkling of holy water is to be allowed inside the religious place.”

Shopping malls, hotels and clubs, which too were reopened, saw comparatively less patronage. Parks, however, became lively again with the return of morning walkers and joggers. As a general preventive measure, the government said cross ventilation should be encouraged in all places and temperature setting of air-conditioners should be in the range of 24-30 degrees Celsius.

Tamil Nadu reports 5,928 Covid-19 cases and 96 deaths

Tamil Nadu on Tuesday reported 5,928 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking the overall tally to 4,33,969. The total cases included 31 returnees from other countries and states. With 96 deaths, the death toll reached 7,418. As many as 6,031 patients got discharged on Tuesday, the recovery stands at 82.2 per cent. There are still 52,379 active cases in the state.

Chennai reported 1,084 cases and 22 deaths while the neighbouring districts Chengalpattu (384), Kancheepuram (191) and Tiruvallur (296) added 871 cases and 19 deaths. A total of 2,275 patients were discharged in these regions. In western regions, there has been a surge in the number of cases. Coimbatore reported 581 cases, followed by Salem with 335. Among the northern districts, Cuddalore (286) cases, Kallakurichi (209) recorded maximum cases.

As per the bulletin issued by the Tamil Nadu Health Department, a total of 19,949 children under the age of 12 are infected by the disease. As many as 3,57,56,629 persons in the age group between 13-60 and 56,454 persons above 60 years have tested positive for Covid-19.

Among the deceased, 92 had co-morbidities. Till date, a total of 7,61,177 passengers have entered Tamil Nadu through various modes of travel, and 6,341 of them have tested positive.

Tamil Nadu assembly session to take place at Kalaivanar Arangam

The Tamil Nadu assembly session is set to take place at Kalaivanar Arangam in Omandurar Government Estate in Chennai on September 14 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a press release from the Raj Bhavan, the session will take place on the third floor of the newly built multi-purpose auditorium at 10 am. The space is closer to the MLAs’ hostel and has a huge space for parking. The auditorium was primarily used for conducting dramas and other musical events.

For the first time in 10 years, Tamil Nadu’s Legislative assembly session is taking place outside the historic Fort St.George in Chennai, which is often described as the seat of power. The officials had said that the decision was taken as physical distancing cannot be achieved in the available space at Fort St.George.

(With inputs from PTI)

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