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Now all goods - essential and non-essential - can move in coronavirus lockdown

Joe C Mathew     March 29, 2020

In a decision that will facilitate the movement of goods across the country, central government has allowed transportation of all goods, without distinction of essential and non-essential during the lockdown period.

The decision will help movement of existing stocks, and if followed by an approval to permit at least partial operations of manufacturing, will help the movement of goods within the country, as well as export and import of goods that are not in the banned or restricted category. The entire food processing industry may benefit from the relaxation soon.

In a clarification issued on March 29, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the changes have been incorporated as addendum in the consolidated guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act five days ago.

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The changes will remove the legal hurdles that were preventing the smooth functioning of the entire supply chain of milk collection and distribution, including its packaging material. The letter addressed to the chief secretaries of the states said that the movement of groceries including hygiene products such as hand washes, soaps, disinfectants, body wash, shampoos, surface cleaners, detergents and tissue papers, toothpaste, oral care, sanitary pads and diapers, battery cells, chargers, etc should be allowed.

In a separate notification, today, the Commerce Ministry said exporters from India will be allowed to ship their goods without the mandatory certificate of origin (COO) from designated bodies due to the lockdown. "These certificates will be issued retrospectively by the concerned Indian agencies after they open their offices," it said. The directive will help clear a lot of goods that are already manufactured but not dispatched due to the absence of COO.

The government has also expressed its willingness to accept import of goods with without certificates of origin from its free trade agreement (FTA) partner countries for the time being if they make a former request in this regard.

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