On 19th April, Sunday, the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) said that the supply of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies will remain prohibited during the nationwide lockdown, which is meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
As per guidelines issued by the MHA last week, this comes at a time when e-commerce firms were preparing to deliver products like mobile phones and refrigerators to customers in areas that do not fall under COVID-19 hotspots from 20th April.
A spokesperson for Amazon said the new guidelines will disappoint not only the consumers whose list of essentials had expanded to work from home and study from home products but also the thousands of small businesses, sellers and manufacturers across the country, who had geared up in the last 48 hours to provide millions of people with safe access to products.
“Laptops, mobile phones, and accessories, computer hardware, webcams, all these things should be allowed to be part of essential goods. If the lockdown continues, lack of proper technical support would hinder the efficiency of employees which in turn would affect a company’s operations,” said Srinivas Mothey, senior vice president, Paytm Mall.
The Centre had only allowed the delivery of essential goods, including food, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment through e-commerce platforms between 24th March and 14th April, under the 1st phase of lockdown.
However, on 15th April, the government issued detailed guidelines allowing e-commerce companies to operate.
States like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Odisha have issued directions for e-commerce operations in the state by following the guidelines of the Home Affairs Ministry.
Earlier the Odisha govt has allowed home delivery by operators/ online delivery services such as Amazon, Flipkart, Bigbasket, Grofers, Urbanclap, Zomato, Myntra and Swiggy.
Through e-commerce/online platforms, home delivery of all goods has been allowed previously. As per the notification by the state, retailers of food and grocery items like Big Bazaar and Reliance Fresh were previously allowed to provide home delivery services.