In a major relief to Indian e-commerce firms such as Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal, the government has allowed the players to deliver both essential and non-essential items across green and orange zones during the third phase of the lockdown, beginning May 4. The e-tailers, however, are allowed to deliver only essential items, which include grocery, hygiene products, and medicines, in red zones.
"Ecommerce activities will be permitted only for essential goods outside containment areas in red zones," the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in revised guidelines issued on Friday.
Lauding the government's decision to partially allow sale of non-essentials, the e-tailers said the move will help meet consumer demand while easing the burden of piled up inventory of the MSMEs amid the extended nationwide lockdown. They have promised delivery of products with proper precautions and in a safe manner, ensuring social distancing.
Amazon reportedly said that this will allow millions of small-and-medium businesses and traders to jumpstart their operations and livelihoods across their workforce.
Online retailer Snapdeal said that the move will help start a gradual process of economic recovery by enabling lakhs of sellers and MSMEs to cater to the demand of users through online and offline channels.
"We welcome MHA's announcement that paves the way for a calibrated resumption of various economic activities, including e-commerce, in various parts of the country. This will help start a gradual process of economic recovery by enabling lakhs of sellers and MSMEs to cater to the demand of users through online and offline channels," a Snapdeal spokesperson reportedly said.
Srinivas Mothey, Senior Vice President at Paytm Mall, said, "Many have been eagerly waiting for some relief in lockdown guidelines to buy air conditioners, refrigerators to beat the growing heat. This move will give a major relief to citizens and compliment the stupendous efforts the government has made to combat Covid-19 and keep Indians safe," he added.
On Friday evening, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that the nationwide lockdown would be extended by other two weeks with effect from May 4, 2020. However, the government issued relaxations in the districts falling in the green and orange zones. All the 733 districts across the country have been divided into three zones - red (hotspots), orange (having a limited number of COVID-19 cases) and green (no cases).
By Chitranjan Kumar
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