In order to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus across the country, India on Sunday imposed a complete or partial lockdown in several states at least till March-end. The restrictions will prohibit all but essential services from operating and will take effect from Monday morning. However, E-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon have been exempted by the government from any order that restricts supply through them.
Late last week, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said that it has issued necessary directions to state governments to ensure that couriers of e-commerce platforms are allowed to supply essential items without inconvenience. The ministry has asked state governments and local administrations to exempt e-commerce operations, their vendors, and third-party delivery partners from any prohibitory orders to ensure that consumers can access essential goods and services in case of strict lockdowns.
However, the department has noted that e-commerce companies and delivery partners are required to maintain proper hygiene and sanitation in their facilities, and vehicles, they may be regularly inspected and disinfected.
Flipkart on Saturday said that e-commerce world over has been the lifeblood for cities under shutdown to fight against coronavirus while lauding the government move to exempt e-tailers from any order that restricts supply through them."We see that world over, e-commerce, powered by technology, has played a key role as a partner with the public authorities and has been the lifeblood for cities under shutdown to fight Covid-19," Flipkart spokesperson said in a statement.
E-commerce companies have seen a jump in order across several categories in last several days and have run out of stock in some categories especially masks and hand sanitizers.
Amazon said that the ongoing coronavirus crisis has impacted its operation in the short term and it is working to resolve it.
"In particular, you will notice that we are currently out of stock on some popular brands and items, especially in household staples categories. You will also notice that some of our delivery promises are longer than usual. We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability on all of our products, and bring on the additional capacity to deliver all of your orders," Amazon said in a blog post.
The company did not share any comment on the government's move to exempt e-commerce for the supply of essential items.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the total number of cases saw a surge with over 396 positive cases, which also includes foreign nationals. Maharashtra has reported the highest number of Coronavirus cases, followed by Kerala. In addition, the Ministry of Health has stated that over seven people have died due to Coronavirus.