India issued new orders last week extending its ongoing lockdown for more than a month. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs circulated new orders with relaxation for some businesses including ecommerce companies such as Amazon and Flipkart.
India has Red, Orange, and Green zones to denote the severity of the spread of coronavirus in those areas (Red being the worst affected). Currently, 130 districts are classified as Red, 284 as Orange, and 319 as Green.
According to new orders, these online retailers will be able to deliver non-essential items, but with certain caveats. They’ll be able to deliver these items only in green and orange zones — districts defined by the Indian government with no or limited amount of coronavirus spread. Plus, they’ll have to make these deliveries between 7 am and 7 pm.
Red zones — which consists of 130 out of 736 districts in the country — won’t benefit from these relaxations. The government will only allow deliveries of essential items in these areas.
In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said because of this decision millions of small and medium business will be able to restart their businesses:
We welcome the government’s decision to allow e-commerce in orange and green zones to serve people safely with products that they need and have not been able to access due to the lockdown. Millions of small-and-medium businesses and traders will now be able to jumpstart their businesses and livelihoods across their workforce.
The company added that it’s also urging the government to “consider the positive role ecommerce can play to get customers all priority products they need.” In turn, requesting authorities to put issue relaxation even in the red zone.
In a statement, Flipkart said it welcomes the government’s decision for an exit plan from the lockdown:
We welcome the government’s efforts in progressively charting out an exit plan from the lockdown and allowing ecommerce to serve consumers in the Orange and Green zones by fulfilling their products needs, in addition to serving essentials and grocery in Red zone through a safe supply chain.
We’re fully aware that e-commerce can further strengthen ‘social distancing’ by safe, contactless deliveries through a sanitized supply chain and help governments at the center and states fight this battle effectively. We are working with lakhs of sellers across India and helping them prepare their businesses and workforce to make products available for consumers in this time of need.
While people living in Green and Orange zone might be able to order non-essential items, some states have issued restrictions on delivering these items in containment zones within Orange districts. So, if you’re living in the containment zone, you won’t be able to get non-essential items.