India on Sunday extended the COVID-19 lockdown for two more weeks with the fourth phase providing more relaxations outside the containment zones. Easing more curbs to step up economic activity, the new guidelines for lockdown 4.0 unveiled by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) till May 31 allowed shops and markets including barbershops, salons and spas except those in malls to open with staggered timings.
The MHA's guidelines essentially stated that those activities not specifically prohibited would be permitted, which implies that E-commerce for non-essentials is allowed. Consequently, Amazon India has started delivering all products in most locations. Regarding payment options, Amazon's website states that it is also accepting Pay on Delivery in most locations where they are delivering all products. If a person's location is eligible for Pay on Delivery, they will see the option on the payment page while placing the order.
In locations where Amazon is delivering only essential products, it will continue to accept pre-paid orders only. Users can check whether Amazon is delivering to their location by signing in the mobile app or website and by selecting their address or Pincode (on the top-left corner of the window).
In the first two phases of the lockdown (that started from March 25), e-commerce companies were allowed to sell only essential items like grocery, healthcare and pharmaceutical products. In the third phase which stated from May 4, these platforms were allowed to sell all items in orange and green zones, but only essential items were allowed to be shipped in red zones that include top e-commerce hubs like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad.
However, the Ministry of Home Affairs' latest guidelines mentions that states will take a final call on permitting businesses to open depending on their situation. Online retail sales will continue to be restricted in containment zones across the country, where only essential activities will be allowed, it said. Amazon's pin-code tracker accepted an order placed in Mumbai's Worli, which is a red zone, though it is possible that the zoning isn't immediately updated. Additionally, the new guidelines leave it to states to decide which zones are red, orange and green.
Issuing a nine-page guideline on Sunday, the Union Home Ministry listed the dos and don'ts during the lockdown 4.0 that has been clamped in the country to break the chain of coronavirus infection. The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 2,872 and the number of total positive cases climbed to 90,927 Sunday morning, according to the Union Health Ministry.
(With PTI inputs)