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Unlock 1.0 Day 1: Temples open in Bengal, hustle bustle in other states as new guidelines come into play

Written by Neha Banka
, Tora Agarwala
, Ralph Alex Arakal
, Janardhan Koushik
, Darshan Devaiah BP
| Bengaluru, Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata |

Updated: June 1, 2020 4:28:34 pm

About two months later, an old woman prays at a temple in Barasat in West Bengal.

From open shops and markets and milling crowds on roads to the hustle and bustle of railway stations, a semblance of normality seemed to return in various states as the country entered the first of the three-phase unlock plan on Monday. With the government allowing unfettered movement of goods and persons within states, more vehicles were out on the roads, leading to snarls in many cities, even though public transport remained skeletal.

In Bengaluru, an increase in people and vehicle movements were seen in most parts of the city except containment zones while roads in Tamil Nadu witnessed much more traffic with the arrival of auto rickshaws and taxis.

With 100 pairs of trains set to run from Monday, the South Western Railway kickstarted operations of 16 out of 23 trains. The first of these left KSR Bengaluru for Hubli junction at 6 am. Trains from Yeshwanthpur to Shivamogga town, from Bengaluru to Hubballi, and Danapur are also set to be flagged off later in the day.

In Kolkata, huge queues were seen at bus and auto stops in total disregard to social distancing norms as the Mamata Banerjee government allowed total attendance in micro, small, medium and large industries, including construction activities.

Passengers line up to board a bus on Monday at Barasat in Kolkata

Traffic snarls were witnessed in the city’s busiest intersections, including on Jessore Road near the airport, Esplanade, Howrah Bridge and VIP Road. Religious places like the Thantania Kali temple and Lake Kali Bari also reopened but the famous Kalighat temple remained closed. West Bengal had decided to open religious places a week before the rest of the country.

The first day of ‘Unlock 1.0’ in Assam, which witnessed a surge in Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks, taking the tally to 1300, had little impact as a bulk of the relaxations had come into effect in the state from May 4 itself. The state government is yet to announce fresh guidelines for the new phase. Even though the Centre allowed opening of religious places from June 8, the management of the biggest temple in Assam, Kamakhya temple, which attracts thousands of visitors, has decided to keep its premises shut till July.

Hawkers have also started opening shops from Monday in parts of Kolkata.

In Tamil Nadu, bus services with 50 per cent strength and 60 per cent occupancy resumed in the state after 68 days and close to 400 buses started operations in Madurai district, providing much needed relief to those struggling to commute from their towns to the city.

While people were seen wearing masks and maintaining social distancing in buses, there were reports that in a few of the big towns, buses were plying without sanitisers.

The government has classified the 37 districts in Tamil Nadu into eight zones, with relaxations not applicable for areas like Kancheepuram, Chengalpet, Tiruvallur, Greater Chennai, where a higher number of Covid-19 cases have been reported.

A popular shopping centre Tulsibaug reopens after lockdown on Monday in Pune

Arasu Raja (37), an auto-driver from Nandanam in Chennai, claimed the public were still hesitant to travel in autos fearing the spread of the virus. “We came to know about these relaxations only by today morning, and we immediately went to work. Since morning, hardly we saw two or three customers. We have been jobless for the past three months and have been pressured by our owners to pay our dues. We pledged our family members’ jewels and paid the existing loans,” he said.

Moreover, several hotels and restaurants in cities are gearing up to open their businesses on June 8 after a gap of more than two months. Bengaluru’s iconic Vidyarthi Bhavan restaurant in Basavanagudi has introduced a new seating pattern even though the Health Ministry is yet to come up with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the same.

Restaurants and hotels, which have seen a huge slump in business, can now open for dine-in facilities. So far, restaurants were given permission for take-aways and online deliveries.

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