After a long year of being cooped up indoors, Chennaiites gratefully took to the city to celebrate the new year. Malls, beaches and temples were crowded even with restrictions in place. Despite the looming threat of COVID-19 and the recently confirmed new strain in the city, locals still flouted mask regulations and social distancing.
Many others visited places of worship like Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam in T Nagar for the New Year darshan. Large crowds were seen queuing up for prasadam and prayers, not following social distancing norms despite policemen attempting to curb the crowd. Similar scenes were seen at the Mylapore Tank, where people were shopping and crowded in and around the temple.
One street vendor near the tank said they had good business during the day owing to the crowd. “Over the last week, we got good business to make up for the many months we were shut due to the pandemic. I am hoping this will continue,” said a toy vendor.
Several people took to the malls in the afternoon. When DT Next visited VR Mall, there were shoppers visiting clothing stores and food courts with friends and family.
Children were seen playing games on the roads. Chennaiites burst firecrackers, too, to welcome the new year.