With the commencement of lockdown 4.0 led by the Covid-19 pandemic, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced more relief for e-commerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and others, allowing them to resume full services across most parts of the country from today (Monday) onwards.

According to the latest Union Home Ministry’s order, “all other activities will be permitted, except those which are specifically prohibited” under the fourth phase of the lockdown that ends on May 31.

However, in containment zones, only essential activities will be allowed.

The order also said that the States and union territories – based on their assessment of the situation – may prohibit certain other activities in various zones or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary.

Amazon spokesperson said, “Amazon welcomes the latest notification from Government of India as it enables eCommerce to deliver a wider selection of products while upholding the tenets of safety and social distancing. We remain committed as always to ensuring the safety of our customers and our employees while creating business and employment opportunity.”

Meanwhile, a Snapdeal spokesperson said the MHA guidelines pave the way for a broader resumption of economic activities across most parts of India.

“E-commerce has played a crucial role in the last two months by delivering a range of much-needed goods to consumers – within the safety of their homes. Our sellers and delivery partners have worked extensively to meet these requirements while exercising strict safety measures and we applaud their commitment in rising to the occasion,” the spokesperson said.

He said the company is “ready and equipped” to now start serving customers all across India – in red, green and orange zones – and added that the development will enable lakhs of medium and small online sellers to start rebuilding their businesses.

In the first two phases of the lockdown (that started from March 23), e-commerce companies were allowed to sell only essential items like grocery, healthcare and pharmaceautical products.

In the third phase (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.

Sales of non-essential items on e-commerce platforms in the first week of May were lower than last year on account of the lockdown, but orders were scaling fast as people bought apparel, smartphones and grooming products among other items.

The industry continues to face the challenge of availability of limited manpower for warehouses and delivery.

Similarly, cab-hailing services like Ola and Uber may also resume services across locations.

The MHA order said inter-state movement of passenger vehicles and buses with mutual consent of the states and union territories involved.

It added that intra-state movement of passenger vehicles and buses, as decided by the states and union territories. These activities will be permitted with restrictions, except in the containment zones.