Published: 23rd March 2020
No Swiggy, No Cry: How the Corona-driven section 144 could affect your lives from March 25
Section 144 basically states that the administration is entitled to impose restrictions on one's personal liberty. This is what it means in effect for the people in Tamil Nadu
The Tamil Nadu government has imposed section 144 in the state from 6 pm on Tuesday evening to contain the spread of COVID-19. For millennials, this could be the first time that the state has been put on a lockdown for health reasons. So far, we've only been witness to the section being imposed in times of protests, riots or violence. So what could it mean for the state to go on a complete shutdown in the times of Corona?
Section 144 basically states that the administration is entitled to impose restrictions on one's personal liberty. No group larger than five people is allowed to gather in any public spaces in the city. When section 144 with a curfew is imposed the restrictions are many more and stricter - no public transport and in spaces, shops and restaurants run during this time.
According to the notice issued by the Tamil Nadu CM, no public transport will function from tomorrow evening - this includes buses, trains, autos and taxis too. With most private companies being asked to implement the work from home option, most employees might not have to worry about the public transport being restricted. However, this could impact those working in 'essential services' that the government has mentioned. Basically civilian traffic will be stopped during this time.
The CM has said that restaurants may function but only for delivery services. With Swiggy and Tomato doing all the delivery now, it is not clear if the government meant the restaurants delivery executives or Swiggy's or Zomato's. Neither of the two food delivery majors have made a statement yet. The urban population is largely dependent on Uber and Ola. While both the cab companies have advised customers to only take on essential travel, neither has made a statement yet on the imposition of section 144 in the state and whether they will suspend services.
For those wanting to quickly catch that bus to your hometown might only have today to do it as inter-district buses have also been stopped with district borders also being closed.
The violation of section 144 can get a person thrown in jail for a period of up to three years. All this while, those creating a disturbance or believed to be creating violence or disturbance would be swiftly thrown in jail. But at a time like this when a disease is what is keeping people indoors, it is hard to say what would happen to those violating the section. In other states though where the Epidemic Act has been imposed, those violating quarantine rules have been getting arrested.
While the section has only been imposed on the state up till March 31, according to the law it can be imposed for two months and get be extended further as well if the state makes a case for it. With the spread only expected to get worse over the next few weeks, there is a chance the government might extend the curfew. Bu these are extraordinary times and the government might take measures accordingly. But for now, post 6 pm tomorrow, better sit tight at home and wash those hands!