NEW DELHI, April 19 - E-commerce companies have been prohibited from selling non-essential items during the lockdown, as conditional relaxations in select sectors outside the coronavirus hotspot areas to kickstart the battered economy come into effect from Monday.
With states gearing up to revive limited business activity after the Centre announced easing some of the curbs on April 15, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Sunday said more relief measures are bound to come if the country continues to manage the coronavirus crisis well, asserting, �you cannot (have) lockdown permanently�.
�He (Modi) gave the call of lockdown at the right time and is now partially allowing economic activity while the lockdown continues. With such a (huge) population we have managed well, if this continues we will get more relief,� Javadekar told PTI in an interview.
While the relaxations starting from April 20 are primarily aimed at boosting the rural economy, Javadekar, who is a member of the Group of Ministers (GoM) to oversee measures to combat COVID-19, expressed confidence that economic activities will resume in cities as well �sooner than later�.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said some industrial activity in the green and orange COVID-19 zones in the state will be resumed in a restricted manner. �We have to turn this arthachakra (stuck wheel of the chariot of economy) from April 20.
But Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government has decided not to relax lockdown restrictions which is in force till May 3 as of now since coronavirus appears to be spreading at a �faster pace� in the national capital. The government will assess the situation again after one week, he said.
Kejriwal said Delhi has reported 1,893 COVID-19 cases and 43 deaths.
Four days after e-commerce companies were allowed to sell products like mobile phones, refrigerators and ready-made garments, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued an order excluding non-essential items from their business. The April 15 order had said e-commerce platforms were allowed to sell such items from April 20.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials had said televison sets and laptops could also be sold online after which a few e-commerce companies had starting accepting orders.
Asked to comment during a media briefing on the U-turn, Punya Salila Srivastava, a Joint Secretary in the MHA, said the COVID-19 situation was extremely dynamic and the decision to allow non-essential goods through e-commerce was withdrawn after it was felt the list of permitted items through the online platform was extensive and that it may impact the lockdown.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also wrote a letter to the chief secretaries of all States and Union Territories giving a clarification.
�...I would like to clarify that while operations of e-commerce companies for non-essential goods stands prohibited, however they will continue to operate for essential goods as has been allowed earlier and continue to be allowed,� he said. � PTI