E-commerce players are readying ground to operate in green and orange zones, assuming that delivery of essentials and non-essentials will be allowed, according to the revised MHA guidelines. However, some doubts do remain.
“The government has taken an insightful decision to open e-commerce deliveries of non-essential items in green and orange zones. India has been working, studying, and staying indoors for quite some time. People are running low on supplies of several items including laptops, mobile phones, accessories, computer hardware, books, stationery, and even basic summer wear. Many have been eagerly waiting for relief in lockdown guidelines to buy air conditioners and refrigerators to beat the growing heat. This move will give a major relief to citizens and complement the stupendous efforts the government has made to combat Covid-19 and keep Indians safe,” said Srinivas Mothey, senior vice-president, Paytm Mall.
Snapdeal said the MHA had “paved the way for calibrated resumption of various economic activities, including e-commerce, in various parts of the country”.
Though the new guidelines clearly spell out that only delivery of essentials will be allowed in red zones, permissions for orange and green zones are still not spelt out clearly.
Senior executives of e-commerce firms like Amazon and Flipkart said they are closely monitoring the MHA announcement. For now, however, they are working on the assumption that selling non-essentials will be allowed in green and orange zones, and special passes won’t be required.
“E-commerce firms can function once state governments come out with a notification, and that what we are waiting for,” said a senior executive of an e-commerce player, who wished to remain anonymous.
An executive of another e-commerce player said that the entity wouldn’t immediately consider the U-turn that the government made last month on allowing e-commerce firms to allow selling both essential and non-essential items.
Separately, the liquor industry also welcomed the government’s green signal for sale in designated zones. “We welcome the decision to restart liquor trade. We have always said that the cost of liquor shutdown far outweighs its benefits, if any. At the same time, we reiterate that the administration should clearly spell out social distancing and hygiene guidelines for shops, warehouses, shipping, and factories; these must be followed without fail,” said Vinod Giri, director general of the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC).