In what comes as a relief to e-commerce companies in the country, the Ministry of Home Affairs has clarified that delivery of non-essential items will be allowed in green and orange zones. However, e-commerce activities, in the Red Zones, are permitted only in respect of essential goods.
This comes as Amazon and Flipkart have been requesting the government to allow delivery of non-essentials.
Amazon welcomed the governmentâ€™s move to allow e-commerce in orange and green zones. It said in a statement that millions of small and medium businesses and traders will now be able to jumpstart their businesses and livelihoods.
â€śOur foremost priority is to ensure the safety of our customers, employees and partners and we will continue to join efforts to fight against the pandemic by serving people in the safety of their homes with products they need and help in social distancing efforts to keep India safe,â€ť the company said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Amazon has also urged the government to consider allowing delivery of non-essentials in red zones as well. â€śWhile we will maintain the sanctity of the new guidelines around the Red Zones, we urge the government to consider the positive role e-commerce can play to get customers all priority products they need in the Red Zones as well,â€ť it said in a statement.
Flipkart too, while thanking the government said that it is working with lakhs of sellers and MSMEs across India and helping them prepare their businesses and workforce to make products available for consumers in this time of need.
â€śOur seller support team is providing constant online counsel and support to sellers on our platform to help them resume operations over the next couple of days complying with the government directives. We continue to maintain an intense focus on safety and health procedures at our facilities, and for our supply chain and delivery staff that will support the safe movement of goods in a sanitized and healthy manner,â€ť a company spokesperson said.
Snapdeal too, welcomed the announcement, saying that it the way for a calibrated resumption of various economic activities, including e-commerce, in various parts of the country. â€śThis 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. At Snapdeal, we are ready and committed to play our role in enabling India to exit this lockdown safely and efficiently,â€ť a company spokesperson said.
The government, on Friday, extended the nationwide lockdown for a further period of two weeks with effect from May 4. The third phase of lockdown will continue till May 17, but with relaxations. The MHA has issued clear guidelines on what is allowed and what is not in red, orange and green zones.
Earlier this month, after the government allowed the opening of standalone retail shops, Amazon and Flipkart had urged the authorities to also let them sell non-essential items so that millions of consumers at home can be benefited.
Flipkart said they welcome the government's decision of providing gradual relaxations in retail and hope for the safety and security of all stakeholders.
However, "a gradual opening up of delivery of non-essential goods through e-commerce will help meet consumer demands, which include items that will enable them to work from home, stay in touch with others and also address the rising temperature across the country," a Flipkart spokesperson said in a statement at the time.
"E-commerce can help meet these requirements in a safe and secure way while ensuring social distancing and allowing the government to continue their efforts to contain this situation," the company spokesperson added.