The government has increased lockdown period for the third time by two more weeks, starting from May 4. However, this time there will be some relaxation to ease movement in the areas that fall under ‘green zone’ or ‘orange zone’ i.e. areas that are not or less affected by the coronavirus caused Covid-19. In addition to this, the government has also allowed e-commerce companies to sell all items, including non-essential items in these specific zones.

“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 jump-start their businesses and livelihoods across their workforce,” an Amazon India spokesperson said on Friday.

The company urged the government to consider the positive role e-commerce can play to get customers all priority products they need in the red zones as well, enabling stronger economic support for the small businesses while prioritising safety.

Amazon during its first-quarter results stated that the biggest impact on international business for the e-commerce giant has been in India due to the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Under the latest rules, the government has allowed standalone shops, neighbourhood shops and shops in residential complexes to remain open in urban areas, without any distinction of essential and non-essential.

All major urban centres, including Delhi and Mumbai, have been identified as ”red zones” or areas with large numbers of cases and, therefore, not much relaxations would be applicable to them beyond already permitted ones for those involved in essential services.

Under the first phase of the nationwide lockdown between March 24 and April 14, the government had only allowed delivery of essential goods through e-commerce platforms. On April 16, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued fresh guidelines for the current lockdown, allowing e-commerce deliveries and movement of trucks, followed by some states such as Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan also issuing similar notifications.

However, on April 19, the home ministry issued an order saying the following clause-“E-commerce companies. Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions” – is excluded from the guidelines issued. This meant that online commerce companies could only deliver essential items.

E-commerce companies, as well as industry bodies like Nasscom and IAMAI, had been requesting the government to expand the list of essential items.