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For the state government it’s a tightrope between protecting lives and livelihood (Representational)Chennai: Mohamad Ashif is happy that he could reopen his stationery shop in Chennai’s Mylapore after four weeks of lockdown. His business had already taken a hit with no schools for more than a year. The lockdown that progressively intensified into a total shutdown over the last four weeks made it worse.”We are a little happy now. Our livelihood was hit hard during this pandemic. We are happy the government has let us reopen,” he told NDTV.A few shops away at the New Balaji Super Market, a standalone store, customers are walking in after nearly a month. Proprietor Shankar Ramesh says he still had to pay rent and salaries that totalled two lakh rupees. “We suffered fifty per cent losses during the lockdown. Over the one week we had good business as we took orders on phone and WhatsApp after the government allowed.”To help the poor earn their livelihood, the state government has permitted roadside vendors, like Devi who sells flowers. Standalone hardware and electrical shops, workshops as well as self-employed electricians, carpenters and housekeeping staff can hope to earn again. Taxis and autos are also back in non-hotspot districts, including Chennai, where even slaughter houses and government offices have resumed.”We struggled for ten rupees, even to buy a kilo of rice. Thank God today we were able to sell two or three garlands,” Devi added.Tamil Nadu’s daily tally has dipped from 38,000 in mid-May to around 20,000 now. The worry is about 11 hotspot districts, including Coimbatore, where numbers are still high and more restrictions are in place.With export industries permitted to operate there amid fears of spike, it’s a tightrope for the new government that’s trying to protect both lives and livelihood.

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