The Centre on Wednesday asked all state and Union Territories (UTs) "to not obstruct and call for the closure of food processing units" amid the lockdown in the country due to the coronavirus outbreak.
A communique in this regard to chief secretaries of all states and the administrators of all UTs, dated March 23 has been signed by Guruprasad Mohapatra, secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
It said for the consumer items to be readily available in the market, all food processing companies should be allowed to keep their manufacturing facilities open under the strictest of safety and hygiene guidelines and any executive order or Section 144 restrictions should include the exemption of these manufacturing facilities, distribution and sales channels servicing the food and beverage market, including food delivery services, as also employees associated with such activities.
The secretary urged that all Retail/Grocery, Organised Trade including Cash and Carry and wholesale, Chemists/Pharmacies that stock and sell Food products, Medicines, Water etc. should be allowed to remain open to avoid inconvenience to consumers as also to prevent "panic buying".
The letter said to permit workers/operators at retail outlets, pharmacies, manufacturing unites to travel to their units in discharge of their national responsibilities.
The letter asks due permission to be given for transport vehicles carrying raw material, intermediates to and from the food processing units.
"Clear advisory to ensure inter-state movement of goods for the food processing industry to ensure uninterrupted movement and supply of goods and services; specifically for e-commerce, food processing, delivery boys, and Movement of trucks," the letter said.
The Central government has announced a complete lockdown of the entire country for 21 days to fight COVID-19. All road, rail and air services will remain suspended during the lockdown, which came into force midnight last night.
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