In a Government Order, the Tamil Nadu government said, “During the Pongal holidays, there is a possibility of COVID-19 spreading in Vandalur Anna Zoological park, the tourist destinations in Mahabalipuram, the National park in Guindy as well as Marina beach, since many people will throng these spots. Hence, to avoid the spread of infection, the above-mentioned places will be closed between January 15 and 17 for the public,” the release said.
The State government, after imposing the lockdown since March 24 last year, opened up tourist places for public from December 1. The Marina beach was opened from December 14 but remained out of bounds for public on January 1 due to concerns of overcrowding.
During Kaanum Pongal people are expected to tour various tourist destinations, as is the trend each year. Every year in Chennai, several thousands of people gather to celebrate Kaanum pongal on Marina, Mahabalipuram and a few more places.
In Tamil Nadu, Pongal is celebrated for three days — Pongal, Mattu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal. During Mattu Pongal, cows and bulls are worshipped and games like jallikattu and bull races are conducted in many parts of the state. The government, meanwhile, gave a green light for conducting the bull taming festival but with strict protocols in place. Due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation and spread of the new strain, the State government has now extended the restriction for all three holidays for Pongal.