CHENNAI: With the new restrictions coming into effect in the State from Thursday, there were fewer vehicular movements in the capital city. All the non-essential shops were closed down by 12 pm and MTC buses and trains ran almost empty. Police were deployed to make sure that the shops were closed. Meanwhile, Kancheepuram Municipal officials have issued fines for shops that were open after 12 pm.
As soon as the clock hit 11.45 am, police personnel in patrol vehicles started making rounds around areas, announcing over microphones that shops have to be closed within a few minutes. In Parrys and Broadway, the police went from one shop to the other, forcing the reluctant shopkeepers to pull down their shutters.
Until 2 pm, the roads were filled with vehicles of people returning from shops that were closed. Throughout the city, hotels functioned with half-opened shutters and a person waiting at the door to take order for parcels. “The business is not fast running as it used to be.
Most people are inside the house by 12 pm and prefer cooking for themselves. Mostly, bachelors and others who go to work, come to get packaged food,” said H Govindan, who runs a hotel in Eldams Road. In spite of the shops being closed at 12 pm, several vehicles could be seen on the roads, including a few youngsters taking a trip around the city, given the reduced traffic.
Tasmac outlets in a few places in the city saw a busy crowd with police deployed to maintain order. Pulianthope, Mogappair, Ayapakkam, Perumbakkam, Perungudi, and Navalur were a few places where Tasmac shops were overflowing with people. Police personnel deployed at the shops said they had to distance themselves from the crowd since most of them neither wore a mask nor maintained physical distancing. From 11 am to 12 pm, the crowd reached its peak in most of the places.
The bus conductors whom spoke to Express said that most of the trips, even the longer ones, had to be plied with ten or twelve people at the most. Since the local train services are restricted only to government staff and frontline workers, RPF personnel are placed at the entrance and exit of railway stations to check the ID cards of people before letting them inside.
In Kancheepuram district, Municipal Commissioner Maheswari, raided several shops in Gandhi Salai and issued challans to shops that were open even after warning. Tailor shops, studios, and fancy stores were issued a fine of Rs 500, while jewellery shops, textile shops were fined Rs 5,000. The State had announced new restrictions from Thursday (May 6) till May 20.
All shops except pharmacies and milk outlets are to be closed after 12 pm. Hotels will provide parcels only. Tasmacs will operate between 8 am and 12 pm. All government and private hospitals will function with only 50 per cent employees. Public transports would operate with only 50 per cent capacity.