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Unlock 4.0: Tamil Nadu scraps e-pass system, allows bus transport

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New Delhi, Aug 30: Effective September 1, people can travel across Tamil Nadu without e-pass and public and private bus transport within districts shall resume, the state government said on Sunday, announcing largescale relaxations in the COVID-19 curbs.

Places of worship and shopping malls would be opened and there will be no more intensive Sunday lockdowns, Chief Minister K Palanisamy said.

K Palanisamy

He, however, extended till September 30 curbs which includes measures like prohibitory orders under section 144 CrPc, closure of educational institutions and restrictions in containment zones without any relaxations.While the suspension of suburban train services will continue, the Chennai Metro will resume from September 7, he said in a statement here.

Intra-district bus services (both government and private) and Chennai Metropolitan bus services will be operated from September 1 by following Standard Operating Procedure. Inter-State rail services will be allowed only in select routes and no intra-state services permitted until September 15.

Rescinding the e-Pass system for inter-district movements, which has come in for flak from various quarters, the government said it will be continued for entry into the state from other parts of the country. Palaniswami said shopping malls, show rooms and big formal stores can open with 100 per cent staff but cinema halls cannot function yet.

There will be no 'complete lockdown' across Tamil Nadu from September onwards. The state had enforced the total lockdown on Sundays in the past two months to check the rise in coronavirus cases, tally of which at present stood at 4.22 lakh.

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All places of religious worship will open for public and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on safety measures including the restriction on the number of persons for entry will be issued, he said. Shooting in film industry has been allowed to operate with amaximum of 75 people but with no audience.

In Unlock 4, banks and related services have been permitted to use100 per cent of their staff. Government offices, too, will function with 100 per cent staff from September 1. A Nodal Officer would be appointed to ensure safety norms.

Parks and playgrounds will reopen for physical exercise and sports training purposes. However, spectators would not be allowed in playgrounds. All shops across the state, including those in Chennai, will remain open till 8 pm.

Hotels, resorts and recreation clubs can resume operations by following the Standard Operating Procedure. A new protocol for quarantine and testing would be issued for international and domestic air passengers and train passengers from coming from outside the state.

Chennai Airport would be allowed to receive 50 flights a day as against the present 25. However, the status quo will continue in Coimbatore, Tiruchi, Madurai, Thoothukudi and Salem airports.

Schools, colleges, cinema halls, swimming pools, amusement parks, beaches, zoos, museums, tourist spots would not be opened until further orders. Restaurants and tea shops, already allowed to function as per laid down guidelines, will remain open till 8 pm Hotels with rooms, resorts, recreation clubs and clubs are being permitted to operate from September 1 by following SOPs.

Industries as well as the IT/ITeS sector can function with 100 per cent employees. But the sector is advised to encourage work from home, barring the critical areas of operations that need the presence of employees in office premises.

The effective measures initiated by the government and relief extended to the affected, safeguarded the people from economic downslide besides bringing down the unemployment, Palaniswami said and exuded confidence that Tamil Nadu will come out of the coronavirus crisis.

He appealed to the people to stringently adhere to the government advisory on wearing masks, social distancing and frequent washing of hands.

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