The new COVID-19 containment restrictions enforced in Tamil Nadu by the state government came into force from 4 am on Thursday, officials said, adding the new measures will continue till May 20. With the new enforcements in force, the heavy rush that was earlier witnessed on the roads in Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Trichy and other towns has come down. Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Rajeev Ranjan in an order said that all state government offices will function with 50% staff strength for a fortnight beginning Thursday. The order said that the secretaries to governments, head of departments and district collectors will have an attendance schedule of the workforce. The employees must work in shifts either on alternate days or once in three days as per the requirement of the workload. Private offices will also have to function with a 50% workforce. Public transport, railways, metro rail, public and private buses will operate with only 50% occupancy. Grocery shops (standalone) will be permitted to operate till 12 noon. Grocery and vegetable shops in shopping complexes are not allowed to operate. All other shops other than grocery and vegetable shops will be closed. Shopping malls and other big shops have not been allowed to operate in the state since April 26. State government and public sector outlets will be allowed to function till 12 noon. Restaurants will not be allowed sit-in customers while takeaways will be permitted from 6-10 am, 12 noon-3 pm, and from 6-9 pm. Cinema halls will remain shut, and all social, political and cultural gatherings are prohibited in open or closed spaces. "I think it is better to go for a lockdown rather than this. But the heavy financial losses is the reason for the government pulling back from the lockdown, it seems," Mukundarajan, an employee with a private company, told IANS. "Anyway, people will have to cooperate on whatever measures the government adopts to contain the spread of the virus and thereby saving precious human lives," he added.