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The lockdown is scheduled to end on May 3. “Fear and caution” have become the two mantras that people are chanting as they tread the “just-about-to-end or when-will-it-end” phase of the lockdown. A cross-section of people DT Next spoke to voiced their concerns, even as trepidation has made the bravest of the brave to adopt a wait and watch stance.

People ignoring the lockdown to play in the water at Ennore beach on Wednesday


Prevention is better than cure, which is true in this situation, too. The classification of coloured zones should be stringently followed and restriction on inter-zone movement should be strictly implemented. People should realise the importance of self-regulatory order and implement it with utmost sincerity, observes S Ramabadran, Chairman, Mango Capital.

Anirudhha Baradwaj, a 14-year-old budding footballer from Anna Nagar West who plays for Great Goals says, “It is almost two months since I got on to the field. A couple of days ago, AIFF announced that the remaining Junior League matches of this year’s edition would stand cancelled. Although we have been training through Zoom, working on skills and fitness, I look forward to getting back on the field. However, given the increase in the number of cases in Chennai this week, I may have to cheer myself up with Zoom and the 4x4 space in my hall, which has been my football ground during the period of the lockdown.” “Personally, I am ready to wait a couple of more months for things to get absolutely fine before getting back on to the field. To paraphrase my grandfather, “better be safe than sorry”,” he says.

Babu Sadasivan, an IT professional from Oorapakkam, says he would be happy if the lockdown comes to an end by May 3 as announced. But, he is quick to add, “Considering the growing daily count this week, I don’t think it would be possible to lift the lockdown completely. I feel it is each individual’s responsibility to take all measures to protect themselves, their family and the society. Wherever possible, one should continue to remain at home until things become normal. But at the same time, government and other organsiations should ensure that the needy people are getting their basic requirement to survive, especially the daily wage earners and those below the poverty line.” Sadasivan, who is working from home, advocates for its continuation as much as possible. “Private companies should not do any pay cuts for the employees at least for the next six months. Public transport should start on possible routes, with social distancing measures in place. Like the mobile vegetable shops, one should consider mobile pharmacy and medical facility for the needy, especially the elderly. Most importantly, each one of us should support the needy people around us,” he says.

That the current situation is forcing people to re-think is reflected in the views expressed by S Visalakshi. “Until last week, I was under the impression that the lockdown would end, as Chennai was doing well and also felt a happy that our citizens are behaving responsibly. But the current events have proved otherwise, causing only one thing, fear. The lockdown has tested everyone but the purpose is to save lives. At the current juncture, it needs to continue. Can’t people understand and be patient? It’s after all life that can never be brought back,” she asks.

This is echoed by another resident of Chennai. “The city is topping the chart with most COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu. I would like to see an extension of lockdown in Chennai for two more weeks. The restrictions must be eased only after we move to the ‘orange’ zone. The government should find a way to streamline supply of essential goods through proper surveillance and monitoring without any disruption or delay. People should be allowed to travel within the city with compulsory wearing of masks while social distance practice has to be adhered to strictly. We should take a calibrated approach with a distinct exit plans for districts classified under the three zones,” says Shanmugha Raja (Raj).

Lockdown exit should be gradual, and normalcy should be restored in the unaffected areas first. Travel within the locality/district/the State by private vehicles should be allowed gradually and opening up of non-essential services should be allowed in unaffected areas. IT companies and others who can afford to run their business remotely should continue to do so for an extended period – till July or August if possible. Testing should be conducted at all inter-district check-posts/tolls, says R Lakshminarayanan from Nanganallur, a co-founder of Turiyatree Technologies, a city-based start-up.

Nalini, who stays near Anna Nagar Tower park, has few suggestions that include extending the lockdown for another fortnight at least and not allowing mass transport and share autos to ply for a few months. “If at all the lockdown is lifted now, only companies dealing in essential items must be running with minimal staff,” she opines. She also believes that the educational institutions must remain closed at least till August/ September. “No malls, theatres, parks, restaurants should be opened till this pandemic is over. No crowding in wholesale markets, and group gatherings or celebrations should not be encouraged,” says Nalini, a spiritual trainer, conducting group meditation sessions. “Like helmets, mask must be made compulsory. If violated, heavy fine has to be levied,” she adds.

V Vasant Kumar, a professor who shuttles between Abu Dhabi and Chennai, says, “The lockdown is only a way to protect ourselves.” Likening the virus to a ‘Trojan horse’, he says, “We do not know who is an asymptomatic carrier. Lifting the lockdown will entail a continuous chain of this virus being active as a chain reaction on different host humans. We have to break the chain. Till a vaccine is available, we will be exposing ourselves to greater risk. The herd immunity is fine provided all the human beings are healthy. But reality of a heterogeneous population with weak and impaired immunity and the older folks, it is not good to lift the lockdown.” The underprivileged society does not have awareness regarding the real danger and its consequential risks. As an interwoven society, it is in the interest of all that lockdown should be persisted with, the professor adds.

However, Ravi Sankaran, an entrepreneur, has a different take. “If all measures are in place, lift the lockdown immediately. If they are not in place even after 40 days, they never will be. Lift the lockdown, and monitor the trend closely. My belief is additional data (about the dynamic infection rate as compared to the lockdown time) can be obtained by opening up. This will enable us to arrive at a trend or pattern,” he says.

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