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Hotspot Chennai remains shut as Tamil Nadu eases restrictions in non-containment areas

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Chennai, May 02: Following the Centre's fresh guidelines on COVID-19 lockdown, the Tamil Nadu government on Saturday eased restrictions in non-containment areas and allowed resumption of construction activity, road works, opening of SEZs ,among others, from May 4.

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The cabinet gave its nod to the extension of the lockdown till May 17 and issued new guidelines to be followed during the third phase. While ruling out any relaxation in rules in the coronavirus containment zones, the Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister K Palanisamy said it permitted certain activities in the non-containment zones.

They include: Resumption of construction activity, road works, opening of SEZs, export units with minimum of 20 employees or 25 per cent of staff strength. IT or ITES firms can function with minimum of 20 employees or 10 per cent staff strength, the new guidelines said. Also, grocery shops selling essential commodities can function between 6 am and 5 pm and restaurants (only for takeaways) between 6 am and 9 pm.

The functioning of saloons or beauty parlours is prohibited while service providers such as plumbers, electricians, AC mechanics and tailors can work. These come with a rider - all these activities are permitted in areas outside the containment zones. Regarding non-containment zones in rest of Tamil Nadu, in the zones falling under municipal corporations and municipalities, the Cabinet has permitted re-opening of all factories including textile mills with 50 per cent of staff strength (minimum of 20 employees). In town panchayats with over 15,000 population, the textile mills can function with 50 per cent staff strength after obtaining clearance from the district Collectors. SEZ, EOU, industrial estates / clusters in rural and urban areas can work with 50 per cent staff strength.

No permission has been granted to textile mills located in industrial estates ofurban areas. Collectors have been authorised to decide on re-opening of export units in urban areas with 50 per cent staff strength and units of designing and production of samples for exporting garment and leather products with 30 per cent staff strength.

The Cabinet permitted re-opening of hardware manufacturing firms with 50 per cent staff strength besides spinning mills in rural areas with an equal staff strength. Shops, selling materials for infrastructure industry and repair shops for mobile phones and computers, can be kept open from 9 am to 5 pm.

The first phase lockdown in India was from March 25 to April 14. The second phase commenced on April 15 and would end tomorrow. The third phase lockdown is from May 4 to 17. Chennai is among the Red Zones owing to the high number of COVID-19 cases and tight restrictions are in place.

Chennai has 1,081 cases (till Friday) and the state accounts for about 198 containment zones and 5 clusters have also been identified in the city.

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