The COVID-19 lockdown was on Sunday extended till May 31 in Tamil Nadu by Chief Minister K Palaniswami, who announced new relaxations such as nod for operation with full workforce in specific industries and intra-district private transportation sans permission in 25 districts after a hiatus of nearly two months.
Also, tasks under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee programme can be implemented using full workforce, upto 100 per cent from the present 50 per cent as the government gave further thrust to economic activities.
In Chennai and 11 other districts which account for most number of virus cases in the state, there will be no change in the curbs and they will continue as it existed during the third phase of the lockdown, set to end on Sunday, he added.
In a relief, he said intra-district travel using hired vehicles in the 25 districts can be undertaken for essential activities without obtaining the TN e-Pass, which was mandatory hitherto, but cautioned people to avoid unnecessary travel during the fourth phase of the lockdown.
In 12 districts, including Chennai, autorickshaws and taxis will, however, be permitted for purposes of medical treatment alone on production of TN e-pass.
The districts are Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Chengelpet, Villupuram, Cuddalore, Ranipet, Tiurpattur, Kallakurichi, Tiruvannamalai, Ariyalur and Perambalur.
Together these districts account for the most number of coronavirus cases in the state and Chennai alone has 6,750 positive cases of the total 11,224 as on Sunday.
Citing consultations with top officials, public health and medical experts, he said the lockdown is extended till May 31 and the curbs, including bar on functioning of educational institutions, public entry into religious places and relaxations already in force will continue throughout the state.
The present curbs also include a ban on both intra and inter State public transportation -bus, train and air services besides operation of taxis, autos, metrorail and suburban train services.
Palaniswami announced new relaxation in curbs for 25 districts, including Coimbatore, Salem, Erode, Tirupur, Namakkal and Karur, which have a large number of industries, including textiles.
People in these districts could avail government and private buses for commute within the district and they do not need "TN e-pass," (permission for travel), he said.
However, for inter-district travel, TN e-pass will be needed.
Such buses, to be operated based on special permission from authorities for workplace travel, shall ferry a maximum of 20 people.
While vans and SUVs could transport seven and three people respectively, there can be two passengers in small cars apart from the driver, Palaniswami said.
Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Tenkasi, Kanyakumari, Theni, Madurai, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram, Dindigul, Pudukottai, Tiruchirappali, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts also find a place in the list of 25 districts.
Appealing to people to avoid unnecessary travel in these 25 districts in view of easing of curbs, he said public should use the permission for work related essential tasks.
Also, industries with less than 100 employees can operate with 100 per cent workforce and those with 100 plus personnel can work with 50 per cent of staffers or a minimum of 100 workers (whichever is higher).
Earlier, only industries that had a workforce of less than 50 people were allowed to operate with 100 per cent employees and those with 50 plus staffers on rolls were allowed to operate with 50 per cent of employees.
The new relaxation for industries applies to all regions in Tamil Nadu, barring Chennai city and its suburbs.
Evaluation of answer sheets of 12th Standard public examinations is also allowed.
Effective March 24 evening, public and private transport ceased to operate in the state as part of lockdown measures.
Till date, for travel purposes (by private vehicles), TN e-passes should be obtained by applying through government portals and this requirement will not be applicable in 25 districts from May 18.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)