Update (March 27 12:08 pm): In light of the standard operating procedure issued by the Home Ministry, Mumbai Police will continue to allow e-commerce and delivery operations on the basis of company IDs and uniforms, Pranaya Ashok, the Deputy Commissioner of Police told MediaNama.

  • Kirana stores and other hyperlocal delivery stores will have to collect their passes from the local police station. “There is no elaborate procedure to be followed. Most of the korana stores are already known to the police station. They only have to give basic details of their operations to collect the passes,” Ashok said.
  • 10,000 passes were issued to police stations and units across the city in the first batch. “If more are required, we will issue more,” Ashok said.

All e-commerce firms and delivery service providers that deliver “essential” goods such as food and medicines can email Mumbai Police at webcell.mum@mahapolice.gov.in to continue operations in the city, the Mumbai Police tweeted. This includes grocery delivery, e-pharmacies, food delivery and courier services, Pranaya Ashok, the Deputy Commissioner of Police told MediaNama. The company itself, through “their marketing team or anyone”, can get in touch with the police, he said.

Which brands have already been permitted? Ashok said that he has already spoken to Nature’s Basket, BigBasket, Grofers and Amazon Pantry. “Apart from essential goods and services, Amazon is not allowing sales of anything else through their platform,” he told us. However, yesterday, MediaNama was able to place an order for an HDMI cable via Amazon. We have reached out to Amazon for comment.

  • Mumbai Police has not talked to Flipkart yet. “That’s why we are reaching out because there are n-number of e-commerce websites. We don’t have contact with many. As soon as they connect with us, we will be able to facilitate their movement across the city,” he told us. We have reached out to Flipkart for comment.

E-pharmacies, courier companies, food delivery will be allowed. E-pharmacies such as 1mg and PharmEasy will also be allowed. Ashok has already spoken to Blue Dart, a courier company. “We are coordinating with them to open their [Blue Dart’s] hubs, and then the delivery part will also be supported,” he said. All warehouses of Amazon, Flipkart, etc. will also be allowed to operate. Food delivery through Zomato, Swiggy, et al will also be facilitated “because that all comes under e-commerce” and “food is an essential item”.

Delivery agents will be identified by their company IDs, uniforms, and vehicles vehicles. Unlike Bengaluru, employees will not be issued passes by the police. The Mumbai Police is instead circulating images of company uniforms and official vehicles to its “ground level officers so that they [the police] can identify them easily and this becomes their pass so to say,” Ashok told us. Companies don’t need to give their vehicle registration numbers or employee details “because that data doesn’t help us on the ground much”, he said.  “All we need is a valid ID card issued from their company and the person should be wearing the uniform.”

Lack of awareness among ground level officers is a challenge. Although all Mumbai Police officers have been instructed to allow movement of delivery agents, and are regularly updated through “wireless communication” and meetings at police stations, “the only problem is that many of our men are not even aware ki aisa koi service bhi hai [that such a service exists] because there are a lot of brands,” Ashok said. “There are very hyper local brands which are not as famous or do not spend as much on marketing. Some are local, Mumbai-level brands; some are still growing. So there are a lot of brands about which we do not have any knowledge. But as soon as they connect to us, we are able to help them also,” he said.

Local kirana stores can also contact the police via email. Ashok has already been in touch with different retail associations of India so that home delivery can be encouraged.

People must remain in their homes: Police’s aim is to ensure that people’s “movement is kept to the bare minimum”. “Anything that helps us do that, will be facilitated,” Ashok said. “We are still developing the system. In 1 or 2 days it should get regularised and things would be much more smooth,” he said.

***Update (March 27 12:08 pm): Story updated

Correction (March 26 1:26 pm): We erroneously stated that Delhi requires passes for delivery agents. That is not the case. Error is sincerely regretted. Originally published on March 26 at 1:09 pm.

Read more about e-commerce operations during the 21-day lockdown here.