Mobile phones, televisions, refrigerators, laptops, air conditioners, coolers along with stationery items will be allowed to be sold through e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal from April 20 during the lockdown, officials said on Thursday.
The clarification from a senior home ministry official came a day after Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued revised guidelines for the extended lockdown period till May 3.
As restrictions on certain economic activities will be lifted to some extent starting April 20, e-commerce majors would be able to sell mobile phones and electronic items, including refrigerators, televisions, air conditioners, coolers along with stationery items, officials said.
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The Centre on Wednesday allowed operations of e-commerce companies and courier services starting April 20. In an order, the Ministry of Home Affairs has also said that vehicles of e-commerce companies can ply, but with necessary permissions.
The relaxations are allowed in areas which are not hotspots for coronavirus cases.
During the first 21 days of the lockdown, e-commerce platforms were allowed to sell only essential goods such as food, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
However, initially during the nationwide lockdown, there were issues being faced by their delivery personnel due to the restrictions from the authorities.
There were several reports of delivery partners of e-commerce firms being beaten by police, but eventually, the Home Ministry assured the companies that they would be able to operate and deliver essential goods.
A spokesperson for Flipkart Group said: “In accordance with the guidelines announced by the government of India and in collaboration with all state governments and local authorities, we will continue to serve consumers to promote social distancing through our sanitized supply chain, contact-less deliveries and safe last mile delivery processes.”
It further said that its seller support team is providing constant counsel and on-ground support to sellers on our platform to help them resume operations in a few days.
“Our analytics teams are supporting sellers with market intelligence to ensure smooth listings on the platforms. Also, our supply chain team continues to maintain an intense focus on safety and health procedures in our facilities and staff that will support the movement of goods for sellers,” said the spokesperson.
Applauding the move, a Snapdeal spokesperson had on Wednesday said: “At this critical juncture, the e-commerce industry can ensure that citizens stay indoors and all their needs are met through home deliveries with immense precautions. We look forward to serving the nation in protecting both lives and livelihoods.”