With the second wave of COVID-19 impacting India, Maharashtra announced state-wide restrictions on movement, permitting access to essential services only between 7 am to 8pm on working days. The state has also restricted e-commerce activity solely to the supply of essential goods and services. At the same time, it has asked local authorities to take a call on staggering the supply of essential services such as groceries, vegetable shops, fruit vendors, dairies, bakeries, and all food outlets.
It’s worth noting that the state government has not defined what is included in “essential goods and services” for e-commerce deliveries. In 2020, during the first nationwide lockdown, the central government permitted e-commerce deliveries for essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Amazon is not shipping books, stationery, fans, kitchen appliances, and mobile phones, to locations in Maharashtra. On Flipkart, items such as fans, stationery and kitchen appliances among others, were “not deliverable” in Maharashtra locations; products such as mobile phone and speakers were “out of stock” in locations in Mumbai, Aurangabad, Pune, Nagpur, and Amravati. MediaNama was able to place orders for medicines for delivery via 1mg in Mumbai as well.
Readers may recall that back in 2020, Flipkart was delivering ceiling fans, table fans, pens, erasers and course books on its platform, possibly in violation of government orders. It was understood from the Union Home Ministry’s orders that physical shops selling fans and books were exempted from the shutdown. This did not mean that e-commerce companies were also permitted to sell and deliver them.
We have reached out to the Union Home Ministry as well as the Maharashtra government for more clarity on what on what comprises “supply of essential goods and services” by e-commerce companies.
According to the state government’s directives, workers engaged in e-commerce deliveries or those interacting with delivery staff need to get vaccinated at the earliest, provided they are eligible. Any e-commerce organisation that falls under the union government’s criteria for workplace vaccination have to organise vaccination camps at the earliest, per the Maharashtra’s directives.
As per the directive, Section 144 has been imposed in the entire state; public transport, including trains and buses, and essential services like groceries, vegetable shops, fruit vendors, dairies, confectionaries, food outlets, and public utilities will remain open.
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