Karnataka lockdown: Karnataka allows e-commerce delivery of essential items only on weekends

E-commerce businesses can deliver all products to customers in Karnataka on weekdays, including during night curfew hours, but they can only deliver “essential items” on weekends, as per government notification imposing movement restrictions from Wednesday evening.

The state imposed a nighttime curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and a weekend curfew from 9 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday, banning most activities as a sharp rise in cases of Covid-19 began to overwhelm its hospitals, especially in Bangalore. The restrictions will be in place for two weeks.

Schedule 1A of the weekday night curfew notification indicates that e-commerce transactions and other home deliveries are permitted. However, Schedule 1B on the weekend curfew stated that “home delivery of essential items will be encouraged to minimize the movement of people out of their homes” during weekends.

This caused confusion among e-commerce businesses on Wednesday morning.

A senior government official clarified that e-commerce firms could only deliver “essential items” at weekends after businesses represented with the government asked for clarification.

Businesses still don’t know what the government says constitutes ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’.

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Karnataka has joined a growing number of states imposing deep restrictions in a bid to break the Covid-19 chain as the fast-spreading infection pushed their healthcare infrastructure to the brink of breakdown.

Delhi, Rajasthan and Maharashtra imposed restrictions on e-commerce operations, allowing only “essentials”, while Chhattisgarh temporarily suspended e-commerce operations.

In Tamil Nadu, only food delivery is allowed on Sundays, that too only during 10 am from morning to evening according to three timings which the government has notified.

The e-commerce companies have approached the state government, asking for permission to operate on Sundays.

An e-commerce company executive said he was not in favor of classifying items as essential and non-essential because it creates confusion and leaves room for interpretation by police.

With governments encouraging working from home until infection numbers drop, computers and peripherals have also become essential tools for professionals, but e-commerce companies are unsure if they are among the items. essential or not.

The industry had made representation to the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) last week, seeking its intervention in Maharashtra where it has been barred from shipping non-essential products. A letter from an industry association submitted to the DIIT said essential and non-essential is a subjective matter.

ET had also reported last week that Maharashtra may change its rules to allow e-commerce companies to deliver all products within the week. However, no such changes have yet been notified.

Delhi had announced on Monday that only delivery of essentials would be allowed in the city during its lockdown week.

State curbs on e-commerce come at a time when they are seeing orders surge due to restrictions on physical movement and rising Covid-19 cases.

On Tuesday evening, the CEO of online grocer Grofers, Albinder Dhindsa, had tweeted that more than 600,000 customers had placed goods in their baskets and were waiting for checkout in anticipation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing a lockdown in his address to the nation at 8:45 p.m. .

Modi, however, urged states to control the spread of the virus through the use of micro-containment zones and that they should consider lockdown as an absolute last resort.

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