CHENNAI: It was a feeling of déja vu for Chennaiites as Sunday lockdown returned, to contain the surge of Covid-19 cases. Police personnel were deployed at many points across the city, but they were not too harsh on the travellers. A senior traffic police officer at Madipakkam said most travellers claimed they were headed for marriage, last rites, or medical reasons.
Except for marriage invitations, we could not ask for proof, he added. “When people say they are going to a relative’s house because their uncle/aunt has died, we can’t ask for proof. There is nothing much we can do,” he said. People going for competitive exams, marriages, and other reasons mentioned in the guidelines were allowed to travel after showing valid proof.
Meanwhile, food delivery partners had a busy day. “We received several orders to deliver meat and fish on Saturday evening. On Sunday, we received orders from far away places as small restaurants in localities were closed. I went to Koyambedu to deliver an order from Velachery. Usually, there are several people who take up food delivery as a part-time job on Saturdays and Sundays. Despite the increasing number of people, we had enough orders to reach our daily target,” said S Sathish, a food delivery partner.
Meanwhile, people who arrived by trains and flights had a tough time due to lack of public transport. Some even walked several kilometres to reach their destination. “I arrived from Kerala in the morning and was not aware of the lockdown. As there was no transport facility, I walked till Porur,” said D Srijesh, who shifted to the city three months ago. Security guards and others engaged in essential services faced the same dilemma. “I don’t have a two-wheeler. I had to walk 4 km from my house to the apartment where I work,” said N Baskaran from Maduravoyal.
Some children enjoyed the Sunday lockdown and were seen riding bicycles in bylanes without a fear of oncoming traffic while cricket was the favourite pastime of many others. There was an eerie silence in T Nagar, the shopping hub. Instead of the usual shoppers only security guard were found near the shops. The situation was same in North Usman Road, Pondy Bazaar, and many other places. Only parked vehicles were seen at the bus termini across the city. A Karthick (33), said, “I’m a cab driver but since today there won’t be many bookings, I started delivering food.”
He said that even during the complete lockdown in 2020 and 2021, he kept switching between driving a cab and delivering food. A traffic police officer at Teynampet said, “Since Sunday lockdowns are a one-day event, people are staying indoors. We did find a couple of bikers roaming unnecessarily, but things are manageable.”