It has been more than a year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide complete lockdown, with only four hours' notice, to tame the transmission of the coronavirus. The social and economic downfall that ensued from the announcement created a vacuum that the country is yet to entirely recover from.
Since then, the central government has been cautious against taking such a step and has instead encouraged states to implement the appropriate measures to bring down the positivity rate and curb the spread of the virus.
Lockdown Minus Relaxations
Tamil Nadu woke up to a sense of déjà vu when Chief Minister MK Stalin decided to implement a week-long 'lockdown within lockdown' beginning Monday, May 24, with no relaxations. It had allowed shops and restaurants to remain open on May 22 and May 23 till 9 PM to enable people to purchase essentials.
Additionally, private buses had been allowed to operate on the two days during the weekend to let people travel between districts, according to the state government press release.
"A complete lockdown is a bitter medicine. But people have to drink it," Stalin had said, as reported by NDTV.
Reports state that the intense lockdown was imposed since people were found to be flouting the restrictions during the first phase from May 10.
According to the data furnished by the health department, the state recorded 34,867 fresh infections and 404 fatalities in the last 24 hours.
What Went Wrong?
To contain the outbreak of the virus, the Tamil Nadu government announced a complete lockdown for a week till May 31, where only emergency services would be allowed to function during the period.
However, shops and public transport were allowed to let people to stock up on grocery provisions, and travel to their destination over the weekend.
The step triggered panic shopping and led to overcrowding — potentially risking the spread with more people in close proximity.
Lockdown in other states allowed essential shops to function for limited hours during the day to prevent panic buying and prevent the spread of the virus by reducing the number of people in small areas.
Although, this has caused the number of cases to decline slowly, it has prevented any sort of rush that would occur after the states slowly ease the restrictions. The bizarre reopening of the state could lead to an unnecessary exponential rise in cases that could have been avoided with appropriate recurring relaxation.
Furthermore, the state government's food ration kits would only be distributed after June 3, leaving those who cannot purchase for a week in a fix.