CHENNAI: Normalcy seems to be returning to Chennai's roads as a fresh set of lockdown relaxations came into force on Tuesday. MTC buses started plying and corporation parks and malls were reopened, albeit with a much lower turnout.
Buses were largely seen plying with about 40 percent strength as the conductors wore face shields, while all passengers wore masks. Social distancing norms, however, went for a toss as many passengers were seen sitting next to each other.
Kathiravan R, who was about to board route 1 A (Thiruvottriyur to Thiruvanmiyur) bus at the Beach Station bus stop, said it was a big relief that public transport was opened.
"I work as a security guard in Adyar and every day it was difficult as I sought lifts from passersby to reach the workplace. Now I don’t have to worry," he said.
Passengers seemed relieved to hop into MTC buses again after five months.
K Gunasekaran, who runs a medical shop in Parrys, said he was happy to see buses again in the Broadway terminus. "I normally use the suburban train to come from Chetpet to Fort Station but buses are fine too. I board the 15 route which plies from CMBT to Broadway," he said.
The New Indian Express also visited many bus termini in the city and the crowds were very minimal. Some termini like Tollgate and Thiruvottriyur were operating services only at half their usual strength.
Dhanasekaran, a bus driver with the Thiruvottriyur terminus, said many buses were left in the depot and only a few from the main routes were plying. "In the days to come, the full fleet will be back on the roads," he said.
On the other hand, corporation parks wore a deserted look in the city with hardly two or three people in the evening. However, many parks visited by The New Indian Express did not follow any of the standard operating procedures released by the Revenue Department.
A watchman at the Arignar Anna Park in Royapuram said, "We have sanitizer but no thermal gun has been given for screening temperature," he said.
The case was the same with many other parks like the Periyar Park in Tondiarpet and parks near Broadway. The corporation parks near Vepery did not have a security guard to monitor anyone, while some parks like the Theagaraya Park in Old Washermenpet are still closed.
Corporation officials said that instructions have been given to all zones to open parks. “We are also distributing thermal guns to all zones. All parks will have them soon,’’ said an official with the Parks Department.
Malls too witnessed few footfalls throughout the day.