Intensified lockdown from April 26; panic buying in TN

Intensified lockdown from April 26; panic buying in Tamil Nadu

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The sudden announcement from Tamil Nadu government that it would implement “intensified shutdown” in three cities, including Chennai, in the wake of COVID-19 from Sunday, led to panic buying of vegetables and groceries on Saturday with hundreds of people thronging markets and departmental stores, throwing social distancing to the wind.

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The government on Friday announced that it would implant “intensified lockdown” for four days from Sunday in Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore after the shops were shut at 1 pm. The government said provision shops will be closed during the four days while asserting that vegetable shops will be open and milk supply will continue unhindered. 

However, as shops upped their shutters on Saturday morning, hundreds of people thronged them to stock up their refrigerators. Huge queues were seen at all departmental stores in three cities, especially in Chennai, even as stocks ran out. As people indulged in panic buying, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami extended the shop timings to 3 pm to enable people to buy provisions for the next four days.

Social distancing was the biggest casualty as people jostled with each other to buy provisions, vegetables and milk. Pictures shared on the social media showed social distancing going for a toss in most places. “ If the government wanted to implement an intensified lockdown, they should have give us enough time. The announcement was made yesterday after the shops were closed. So many people came out today. Who is to be blamed now,” a resident in Chennai's K S Kodambakkam area asked.

The government said it decided to go for an intensified lockdown as an expert committee said this was the best way to contain further spread of coronavirus in urban areas. Chennai has more than 400 COVID-19 positive cases, while the state’s tally is 1,755.