TN: Panic buying grips 5 cities ahead of complete lockdown
After the Tamil Nadu government ordered a total lockdown in five cities from Sunday, social distancing went for a toss as thousands rushed to markets to stock up on essentials. The complete lockdown will be imposed in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem and Tiruppur. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said the shops will remain open till 3 pm on Saturday.
The complete lockdown, announced on Friday by Palaniswami, in the five cities comes into effect at 6 am on April 26 (Sunday). For Salem and Tiruppur, the lockdown will last for three days until it is lifted at 9 pm on Tuesday (April 28). In Chennai, Coimbatore, and Madurai, the lockdown will be relaxed at 9 pm on Wednesday (April 29).
Under intensified lockdown, all small vegetable and fruit shops have been ordered shut, along with take-away services at restaurants, private and government offices, etc. However, pushcarts selling groceries and wholesale vegetable markets like Koyambedu are allowed to function.
The lockdown announcement triggered panic buying among locals who flocked to the markets, resulting in huge crowds. According to The Indian Express, milk packets were sold out by 7 am on Saturday in Chennai's Tambaram and Pallavaram areas, even as the Tamil Nadu co-operative Milk Producers' Federation (AAVIN) had said it will take measures to assure an adequate supply of milk to the public.
Social distancing norms were violated at the Koyembedu wholesale market. A shopper told ANI, "Hunger is scarier than the coronavirus." Reportedly, in Chennai's Royapuram hotspot, people were seen forming long queues. The area has reported 133 COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, barricading at the Sanatorium-Tambaram bridge triggered congestion. The arterial roads in Anna Salai and many inner roads in Chennai were also closed.
The state government responded to the panic buying with an announcement by Palaniswami. Earlier on Saturday, he said grocery shops and other stores selling necessary items will remain open till 3 pm on Saturday in the five cities, along with Kancheepuram, Chengalpet, and Thiruvallur.
As of Friday, Tamil Nadu reported a total of 1,755 cases of COVID-19, including 22 deaths. The state has also recorded over 860 recoveries and only 864 cases in the state are active. Over 65,000 people have been tested in the state. The districts of Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem, and Tiruppur have reported 452, 141, 56, 30, and 110 cases respectively.