TN beaches barred for Kaanum Pongal outing; CM urges people to take precautions against COVID-19

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Chennai, Dec 31 (PTI) Kaanum Pongal festivities next month would be a subdued affair in the state with the Tamil Nadu government announcing that popular beaches will be out of bounds for people, in a bid to check the spread of COVID-19, as it announced more relaxations to the virus-induced restrictions.

To curb the spread of the new strain of the virus, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said the e-registration system would continue for those entering the state from other parts of the country, except Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Restrictions on international flight services will continue except for the routes allowed by Centre, he said in a statement, adding, the restrictions with relaxations will be in place till January 31, 2021.

The state government had first imposed a lockdown on March 25, and various relaxations have been provided subsequently.

The government has already banned the New Year celebrations in restaurants, hotels, clubs and resorts, including beach resorts, on Thursday and Friday.

Palaniswami said the members of the public would not be allowed to gather at Marina and other beaches during Kaanum Pongal as a precaution to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection.

During Kaanum Pongal, on January 16 and part of the Pongal harvest festival celebrations, people visit popular tourist hotspots and the Marina here is a much sought after destination that day when huge crowds throng the famed beach.

Further, the CM allowed 50 percent capacity or a cap of 200 participants in in-door auditoriums for social, political, recreational, sports, cultural, educational and religious events from January 1, 2021.

Prior permission from authorities is necessary.

In-door and outdoor film shooting for cinema and small screens are permitted without any cap on the number of professionals involved.

The government relaxed restrictions already in place to allow the public in all places of worship and a Standard Operating Procedure has to be followed in this regard, he said.

The existing procedures in the containment zones throughout the state will be fully observed without any relaxation.

Calling upon the people to continue to wear masks and follow all safety precautions, Palaniswami said the spread of the pandemic has been gradually reduced in all the districts of Tamil Nadu.

The contagion has been brought under control due to the excellent work of the state government and the co-operation of the public.

'As a result of the special measures taken by the Government of Tamil Nadu, the infection rate has been brought down to less than 1.7 percent in the last one month.

The number of people affected by the disease in the last 10 days is less than 1,100 per day while those undergoing treatment is about 8,867 from about 50,000 in the past,' Palaniswami said.

'We must all continue to strive to prevent the spread of the infection in Tamil Nadu; and in particular avoid overcrowding in public places, the chief minister urged. PTI JSP SA ROH ROH