There were scenes of panic buying in some cities of Tamil Nadu on Saturday after the government announced that it would impose an “intense lockdown” in certain areas due to the rising number of coronavirus cases, NDTV reported.

On Friday, the government had announced that Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore would be completely shut for four days, starting at 6 am on April 26 to 9 pm on April 29. The cities of Salem and Tirupur will also be shut for three days. During this period, standalone grocery stores and other shops such as bakeries will be closed, the government said according to News18.

The Edappadi Palaniswami-led government had on Friday said that grocery shops would be open only till 3 pm on Saturday. But when panic buying began, the state government modified its order, decreeing that shops will be open to sell only vegetables, all through the intense lockdown period.

Extremely essential services such as medical shops, hospitals and ATMs will be open, the government said.

“Though the spread of the disease has come under control in rural areas, the chances of it spreading in cities is high…during the [review] meeting it was clear that only if the restrictions are made more stringent, the spread of the disease can be brought under control in cities,” Palaniswami had said in a statement on Friday, according to The News Minute.

In other cities of Tamil Nadu, the lockdown will operate with the relaxations allowed by the Centre. On Friday, the Centre exempted all shops in residential areas and market complexes in rural areas from the lockdown guidelines. However, the exemptions will not apply to the shops in malls, alcohol shops and shops in coronavirus hotspots and containment zones.

However, on Saturday, people ignored social distancing norms, gathering in crowds at markets in the cities to be put under intense lockdown. Social media was full of photographs of people indulging in panic buying.

Here are some scenes from Chennai on Saturday:

And scenes from Coimbatore and Madurai:

Tamil Nadu has so far reported 1,683 cases of Covid-19, including 20 deaths, according to the Union MInistry of Health and Family Welfare. As many as 400 infections have been found in Chennai.

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