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In pictures: Chennai gets back to work as 'complete' lockdown ends

Updated : 2020-07-07 00:22:22

Socially distant offices, near-empty showrooms, restaurants running takeaways and the familiar tuk-tuk (yellow auto-rickshaw) were some of the sights and sounds that highlighted Day 1 of Chennai's re-opening.

The city was under a complete lockdown between June 19 and July 5, thanks to a spike in COVID-19 cases. However, the re-opening has brought with it a spate of new challenges to operations, supply chain movement, and consumer appetite, as retail outlets and restaurants begin recovery, yet again.

 Offices re-open, but there’s a catch ... After a little over two weeks, offices and shops in Chennai reopened today. Offices were required to maintain strict social distancing norms. This meant that all private establishments were expected to run with just 50 percent of their workforce, while the remainder worked from home. Given spike in COVID-19 cases, masks at individual employee work stations were not uncommon.
Offices re-open, but there’s a catch... After a little over two weeks, offices and shops in Chennai reopened today. Offices were required to maintain strict social distancing norms. This meant that all private establishments were expected to run with just 50 percent of their workforce, while the remainder worked from home. Given spike in COVID-19 cases, masks at individual employee work stations were not uncommon.
 No dine-in at restaurants, again:  Chennai’s iconic Amethyst Cafe (known formally as Wild Garden by Amethyst) wears a forlorn look, thanks to the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to allow restaurants and cafes in Chennai to run only takeaway services. On June 8, the government allowed restaurants to re-open dine-in services. However, an unrelenting spike in Chennai’s COVID-19 cases prompted the administration to do a U-turn on these orders and order restaurants shut, again. Most restaurants have said that takeaways hardly account for 10-15 percent of regular revenues, and the continued shutdown is gravely impacting business.
No dine-in at restaurants, again:
Chennai’s iconic Amethyst Cafe (known formally as Wild Garden by Amethyst) wears a forlorn look, thanks to the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to allow restaurants and cafes in Chennai to run only takeaway services. On June 8, the government allowed restaurants to re-open dine-in services. However, an unrelenting spike in Chennai’s COVID-19 cases prompted the administration to do a U-turn on these orders and order restaurants shut, again. Most restaurants have said that takeaways hardly account for 10-15 percent of regular revenues, and the continued shutdown is gravely impacting business.
 Anything for Chai:  Although the takeaway rule applies to tea shops and small eateries too, it didn’t stop a handful of patrons from having their sip of Chai and filter coffee just outside their favourite hangout. At Chennai’s famous Geetha Cafe in Pondy Bazaar, two gentlemen enjoy their evening cuppa along the neighbourhood’s newly constructed pedestrian walkway, even as the restaurant has suspended dine-in services in keeping with government regulations.
Anything for Chai:
Although the takeaway rule applies to tea shops and small eateries too, it didn’t stop a handful of patrons from having their sip of Chai and filter coffee just outside their favourite hangout. At Chennai’s famous Geetha Cafe in Pondy Bazaar, two gentlemen enjoy their evening cuppa along the neighbourhood’s newly constructed pedestrian walkway, even as the restaurant has suspended dine-in services in keeping with government regulations.
 You won’t get Biryani yet...  Restaurants are reporting depleting stocks of meat thanks to the Chennai Corporation’s decision to shut all slaughterhouses and butcher shops for the first phase of the complete lockdown. Shops say this has, in turn, impacted supply chains at various restaurants. So, if you’d like a plate of mutton biryani at some of these restaurants, prepare to be disappointed. Even fast food giants like McDonald’s are reporting a shortfall in their supply of their famous Chicken McNuggets, as patrons settled for a burger and fries.
You won’t get Biryani yet...
Restaurants are reporting depleting stocks of meat thanks to the Chennai Corporation’s decision to shut all slaughterhouses and butcher shops for the first phase of the complete lockdown. Shops say this has, in turn, impacted supply chains at various restaurants. So, if you’d like a plate of mutton biryani at some of these restaurants, prepare to be disappointed. Even fast food giants like McDonald’s are reporting a shortfall in their supply of their famous Chicken McNuggets, as patrons settled for a burger and fries.
 Open for business? Not quite  Chennai’s twin lockdowns have prompted business owners and retailers to re-think reopening strategies. While some of the bigger local retail outlets, like the city's well-known Rathna Stores have re-opened shutters, smaller shops and stores have decided to wait it out. Part of the reason for this is the delayed resumption of all public transport services, which has played a decisive role in reopening schedules as several owners have said that their employees don’t have the means to commute to work.
Open for business? Not quite
Chennai’s twin lockdowns have prompted business owners and retailers to re-think reopening strategies. While some of the bigger local retail outlets, like the city's well-known Rathna Stores have re-opened shutters, smaller shops and stores have decided to wait it out. Part of the reason for this is the delayed resumption of all public transport services, which has played a decisive role in reopening schedules as several owners have said that their employees don’t have the means to commute to work.
 Retail walk-ins gravely impacted:   A scattering of retail outlets that have managed to re-open for business reported a 70 percent fall in walk-ins between the first lockdown (in late March) and Chennai’s complete lockdown (between June 19 and July 5), thanks to decreased consumer confidence. However, some jewellery showrooms like Caratlane say that revenues are down by 50 percent since most walk-ins end up converting their visit into a purchase.
Retail walk-ins gravely impacted: 
A scattering of retail outlets that have managed to re-open for business reported a 70 percent fall in walk-ins between the first lockdown (in late March) and Chennai’s complete lockdown (between June 19 and July 5), thanks to decreased consumer confidence. However, some jewellery showrooms like Caratlane say that revenues are down by 50 percent since most walk-ins end up converting their visit into a purchase.
 Salons get going:  A customer gets her hair done at a Toni And Guy branch, in Chennai’s Poes Garden neighbourhood. Salons were allowed to re-open for a period of just 17 days before being forced into a lockdown again, thanks to a spike in COVID-19 cases across the city. However, on reopening, a 50 percent drop in walk-ins have been the bane of most salons in the unlock phase, even as customers are opting for the bare essentials, when it comes to styling. Most salons are also reporting a 75-to-100-rupee jump in cost per customer, thanks to sanitisation protocols.
Salons get going:
A customer gets her hair done at a Toni And Guy branch, in Chennai’s Poes Garden neighbourhood. Salons were allowed to re-open for a period of just 17 days before being forced into a lockdown again, thanks to a spike in COVID-19 cases across the city. However, on reopening, a 50 percent drop in walk-ins have been the bane of most salons in the unlock phase, even as customers are opting for the bare essentials, when it comes to styling. Most salons are also reporting a 75-to-100-rupee jump in cost per customer, thanks to sanitisation protocols.
 Get your car back:  Motorists make a beeline (with social distancing, of course) to pay traffic fines, and claim vehicles that were seized during the complete lockdown. The police reported that a total of 87,000 vehicles were seized in Chennai between June 19 and July 5, owing to lockdown violations. A total of 1.10 lakh cases were filed on lockdown violators in period.
Get your car back:
Motorists make a beeline (with social distancing, of course) to pay traffic fines, and claim vehicles that were seized during the complete lockdown. The police reported that a total of 87,000 vehicles were seized in Chennai between June 19 and July 5, owing to lockdown violations. A total of 1.10 lakh cases were filed on lockdown violators in period.
 Yellow autos on the road again:  They are to Chennai what the yellow taxi cab is to New York City, and the humble yellow auto-rickshaw made a comeback after a while. Desperate for business after twin lockdowns, several auto-rickshaw drivers made a beeline for big retail stores, hoping to make up for lost business. A group of these wait for passengers outside the city's famous Saravana Stores. Let's hope they go by the metre!
Yellow autos on the road again:
They are to Chennai what the yellow taxi cab is to New York City, and the humble yellow auto-rickshaw made a comeback after a while. Desperate for business after twin lockdowns, several auto-rickshaw drivers made a beeline for big retail stores, hoping to make up for lost business. A group of these wait for passengers outside the city's famous Saravana Stores. Let's hope they go by the metre!
 Sorry, but no AC  Several businesses that reopened were forced to keep doors open to ventilate their stores, thanks to the government’s banning of air-conditioning at all shops and showrooms. Smaller showrooms like these, located in T-Nagar felt the heat (literally) a whole lot more thanks to poor ventilation. In the Chennai heat, that’s sure to be more than just a challenging proposition.
Sorry, but no AC
Several businesses that reopened were forced to keep doors open to ventilate their stores, thanks to the government’s banning of air-conditioning at all shops and showrooms. Smaller showrooms like these, located in T-Nagar felt the heat (literally) a whole lot more thanks to poor ventilation. In the Chennai heat, that’s sure to be more than just a challenging proposition.
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