The Home Ministry guidelines issued on Wednesday allow certain commercial and private establishments to continue operations after April 20. These include IT and IT-enabled services with up to 50 per cent strength, data and call centres for government activities, Gram Panchayat level Common Service Centers (CSCs), and e-commerce companies. The manufacturing of IT hardware has also been allowed. The guidelines do not include private call centres.
The Home Ministry guidelines issued on Wednesday, allows commercial and private establishments to operate from April 20. This includes IT and IT-enabled services with up to a 50 per cent strength, data and call centres for government activities, Gram Panchayat level Common Service Centers (CSCs), and e-commerce companies with vehicle permits.
The manufacturing of IT hardware will also be allowed to resume. The guidelines did not allow private call centres, but did allow for the public operation of utilities providing telecommunications and internet services.
In the first set of lockdown guidelines announced on March 24, “telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services, IT and IT enabled services only (for essential services) and as far as possible to work from home” was allowed. Also, “delivery of all essential goods” was allowed.
After these first guidelines were announced, numerous online delivery staff were assaulted and stopped from traveling. Even as local police and administrations instituted mechanisms for allowing home deliveries, the companies resumed operations only in a staggered manner, concerned for the safety of their workers.
The new guidelines are expected to ease the hiccups that these companies experienced after the announcement of the first lockdown phase. “While there were a few short-term challenges in on-ground implementation of rules across certain states, we have seen the situation continuously improve over the last three weeks,” said a Swiggy spokesperson. “To ensure continuity of our services, which is deemed as essential and keep citizens of the country safe, we have been working with local governments to remain operational while bolstering our offerings to cater to the needs of the citizens.”
Amazon had made a decision to limit deliveries to essentials in the first phase of lockdown, but now the company will begin expanding to include non-essential items as well.
Allowances for services such as IT repairs, electricians, plumbers and the like will help online platforms like Urban Clap, co-founder Abhiraj Singh Bal told The Indian Express. The company was operating in very select cities with essential services and is now looking to re-initiate essential home services nationwide as per the new guidelines and with appropriate local approvals. “In the medium term, with these guidelines, online platforms will see a major surge. As we slowly come out of the lockdown, most of us and our families will be in need of a haircut and other common services such as a beautician, electrician or an AC technician,” he said.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India also lauded the guidelines. “The permit along with the mandated SOP strike a fair balance between economic activism while at the same time trying to maintain proper hygiene and social distancing norms to counter the ongoing threat,” IAMAI’s Vishwapriya Bharracharya said, adding they welcomed the special recognition of digital services given in the notification. “One e-commerce delivery person can help avoid 350 persons from visiting a retail store, and considering that the e-commerce platforms can cater to 75-100 million customers over 19,000 pin code areas, these platforms can prove to be critical tools of maintaining social distancing even while facilitating economic revival,” he said.
India currently has roughly 500 million online users. India’s gadget manufacturing felt the lockdown effect, due to the closure of factories and assembly sites.
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