India allows eCommerce companies to deliver non-essentials

E-commerce companies including Amazon and Flipkart besides vertical e-tailers like Lenskart will be able to deliver non-essential items across India starting Monday, save for areas designated as containment zones. 

In a notification earlier today, the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Federal government issued a notification extending the Covid-19 lockdown till May 31 but with a series of relaxations including allowing delivery of non-essential items. 

However, online sales would be restricted to containment zones across India where only essential goods would be permitted. These zones, to be demarcated by the states, will be strictly monitored with no movement allowed except for medical emergencies and supply of essential goods, the notification said. 

On May 4, the federal government had allowed E-commerce platforms to deliver non-essential goods to green and amber zones while it was decided to extend the lockdown till May 17. Several states had petitioned the federal administration to relax the restrictions in order to restart business activities that had been paralysed since India went into lockdown on May 25. 

With the previous relaxations, E-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart had started accepting orders for smartphones and other electronic devices on pre-booking. However, for those residing in red zones, these bookings appeared as “not delivered” or accompanied by a message stating that the area was not serviceable now. 

Amazon India had revealed then that the Covid-19 impact had contracted the business considerably as the US giant was only allowed to sell essential items including groceries, and sanitary products. 

A report on ETTech.com quoted a Snapdeal spokesperson as saying that the company was equipped to start serving customers across India, resulting in thousands of small and medium online sellers to start rebuilding their businesses across cities and towns. 

However, under the latest order, cab-hailing companies Uber and Ola have not been permitted to resume full services. Both these companies have been off the radar for close to two months and are being allowed only essential travel activities, which comprise less than 3% of their total business. 

The latest move would come as a sigh of relief for smartphone manufacturers who have announced several launches including the OnePlus8 and Apple’s mid-price offering the iPhone SE 2020 among others. 

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