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E-commerce platforms begin taking orders for non-essentials in red zones

As India enters its next phase of the lockdown that has been extended by two more weeks till May 31 in light of rising cases of COVID-19, the government has come up with a list of economic activities that will be permitted from May 18.

Under the fresh guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs,  e-commerce companies will be able to deliver non-essential items in the red zones as well. For lockdown 3.0 which began on May 4, e-commerce activities were permitted in red zones for essential goods only.

The MHA order for lockdown 4.0 has not clearly mentioned whether the delivery of non-essential goods in red zones was fully permitted. We tried to order non-essential items from e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal to check.

While Amazon looks fully operational for the delivery of non-essential items in the red zones, Snapdeal has a limited number of products deliverable in that zone. Non-essentials items like TV, laptops, mobiles, printers, washing machines are available at Amazon whereas Snapdeal is accepting orders for several kitchen items and accessories. Flipkart is yet to update on this and currently not delivering non-essentials in red zones.

The order further stated that in containment zones, only essential activities will be allowed. There would be strict perimeter control to ensure no movement of people in or out of these zones, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining the supply of essential goods and services.

District authorities have been directed to demarcate ‘containment’ and ‘buffer’ areas within red and orange zones as per the Union Health Ministry guidelines.

The latest notification comes as a major boost for all e-commerce companies as they would be able to fully resume their operations in the country after almost two months due to the nationwide lockdown which began on March 24.

E-commerce firm Snapdeal welcomed the government’s latest move. In a statement, Snapdeal said that the move will pave the way for a broader resumption of economic activities across most parts of India. 

Additionally, the latest guidelines have also permitted all states and union territories to allow the interstate movement of all types of goods and cargo, including empty trucks. 

Activities that have been prohibited in all the zones till May 31 include domestic and international air travel except for domestic medical services and metro rail services. 

Large group gathering activities such as operations of multiplexes, cinema halls, shopping malls, and religious places would also remain closed. 

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