COVID-19: Government Makes a U-Turn, Stops Sale of Non-Essential Things Through E-Commerce Platforms

The government on Sunday prohibited the sale of non-essential items through e-commerce platforms during the ongoing lockdown, four days after allowing such companies to sell mobile phones, televisions, Notebooks, refrigerators, and Readymade Clothing.

The order said the subsequent clause –“E-commerce companies. Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions” — is excluded from the guidelines.

The April 15 arrangement had stated e-commerce platforms were permitted to sell such things from April 20. The cause of reversing the order is not immediately known. But there was a talk of some retail dealers mounting pressure on the government that local stores be also allowed to market non-essentials items, such as e-commerce giants.

E-commerce platforms are permitted to sell vital commodities such as food, medical and pharmaceutical devices.

The previous order said,”Supply of crucial goods is allowed, as under: All amenities in the supply chain of essential goods, whether involved with production, wholesale or retail of these goods through local stores, large physical stores or e-Commerce companies should be permitted to function, ensuring rigorous social bookmarking without any restriction on their timing of opening and closure”.

A day later, Home Ministry officials said digital items such as mobile telephones, TVs, refrigerators, laptop computers, ready-made clothing, stationery items for schoolchildren would be on the e-commerce platforms from April 20.

Following that directive, a few e-commerce companies stated accepting orders. The government also allowed movement of all trucks and other goods vehicles with two drivers and a single helper, subject to the driver carrying a valid driving permit.

An empty automobile or automobile will be allowed to ply after the shipping of products, or for picking up goods.

The lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 for 21 days in a bid to combat the coronavirus pandemic and later extended till May 3. Extending it, the Prime Minister on Tuesday also announced that select essential activities will be allowed to be opened from April 20 in identified regions of the country.

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