Ecommerce platforms stopped from selling non-essential items

The government on Sunday prohibited the sale of non-essential items through ecommerce platforms during the ongoing lockdown, four days after allowing such companies to sell mobile phones, refrigerators, and apparel.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued an order excluding the non-essential items from sale by ecommerce companies from the consolidated revised guidelines, which listed exemptions given to the services and people from the purview of the lockdown.

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The order said the following clause – “Ecommerce companies. Vehicles used by ecommerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions” – was excluded from the guidelines.

The previous order had said such items were allowed for sale through ecommerce platforms from April 20.

However, the reason for reversing the order was not known.

Ecommerce companies were gearing up to deliver products like mobile phones and refrigerators to customers in areas that do not fall under COVID-19 hotspots from April 20 as the government took steps to revive the economy.

Apart from ecommerce platforms, brands were also keen to scale up efforts to meet the pent-up demand amid the nationwide lockdown that has now been extended to May 3.

According to estimates by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there are 12,289 active coronavirus cases in the country as of April 18 and 488 people have died due to the virus.

Globally, 160,721 people have died and over 2.3 million people have been infected by the coronavirus, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

(Additional information has been added to this report for context.)

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)

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