Govt asks states to exempt e-commerce operations from prohibitory orders over Covid-19


In the wake of rising cases of Covid-19 in India, the center and state governments have taken major steps to contain the pandemic, including enforcing social and now physical distancing and forcing people to remain inside their homes.

Post these restrictions, there is a surge in demand for items of daily needs, with several incidents of panic buying already reported from across India.

To curb such incidents, the department of consumer affairs has swung into action. It was reported that the department has now told states to exempt e-commerce operations from prohibitory orders to stop panic buying and also ensure delivery of essential goods.

The department held an inter-ministerial meeting on Friday with e-commerce players such as Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal to ensure the supply of goods even in a lock-down state.

The exemption will be applicable for e-commerce operations, warehousing, logistics, wholesalers vendors and delivery partners.

The department has also highlighted the fact that e-commerce firms and their partners have to maintain proper hygiene and sanitation in their facilities and vehicles. Also, they may be inspected regularly and disinfected.

In its last circular, the department of consumer affairs had already asked e-commerce firms to maintain hygiene in all last-mile delivery processes to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus and ensure the safety of employees and consumers.

While e-commerce major Flipkart has welcomed the move and is ready to deliver all essentials to consumers in this crisis, several vendors and sellers on the platform are unhappy with the decision and may not support e-commerce marketplaces due to the scare. 

Apart from e-commerce marketplaces, grocery firms Grofers and Bigbasket have also reported a sudden surge in demands of grocery and daily needs. Like e-commerce, grocery firms may also request an exemption from prohibitory orders by several state governments. 

Traders body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) announced yesterday that all markets in Delhi will remain closed for three days beginning today. According to CAIT’s general secretary, Praveen Khandelwal, traders across the country will participate in Prime Minister’s call for a self-imposed ‘Janata Curfew’.

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