The constant rise in COVID-19 positive cases in India has impelled the government to extend the lockdown by another two weeks. But, the government is no longer imposing a complete lockdown. And it has allowed e-commerce companies, such as Flipkart and Amazon to deliver both essential, as well as non-essential goods, from May 4 – when Lockdown 3.0 in India kicks in.
As per the latest regulations laid forward by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the e-commerce giants can kick start delivery of all products in orange and green zones in India (i.e locations with zero or sparse COVID-19 cases). They were previously limited to just delivering essential items, including groceries, food, and medical supplies. Red zones still can’t avail of the benefits of online delivery for the time being.
For those unaware, the nation has now been divided into three zones – green, orange, and red based on the spread of the virus. Red zones are high-risk districts/ areas that have been cordoned off. It counts Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai among others as the key red zones. No one can enter or exit the red zone. Green and Orange zones, on the other hand, are ones where COVID-19 cases are sparse or non-existent. Even offline stores can now operate in green and orange zones.
E-commerce giants being allowed to reach customers, even in orange and green zones, comes a huge respite. Amazon had recently revealed that its India business was hit the worse due to the lockdown. Now, it can start to get back on track and bring business to the slew of micro-businesses on its platform. Amazon welcomes the latest guidelines and will start to deliver smartphones, trimmers, electronic appliances, and more in the coming days.
Cab Aggregators Are Free to Operate As Well
Apart from e-commerce giants, the government has given cab aggregators – Uber and Ola the green light to operate in India. The cab-hailing services will also be limited to orange and green zones, alongside all other transport services.
There’s a huge (but necessary) caveat though. Ola and Uber drivers are only allowed to drive a single passenger at a time. You can’t take your family across the city using cab-hailing services. But, if you have a vehicle and inter-district permit, the government says ‘four-wheeler vehicles will have a maximum of two passengers besides the driver and pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers.‘
The government relaxations come after a month-long nationwide lockdown, which saw e-commerce giants and cab aggregators focus on essential goods delivery. It is, however, important to enable netizens to get access to office supplies, air conditioners, and other electronic supplies they haven’t been able to order due to the lockdown.
Also, the MHA guidelines mention that non-essential deliveries in green and orange zones will be allowed between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM. So, if you do end up ordering some goods for yourself, make sure to select a timeslot that meets the new guidelines.