For resolving the delivery of essential services through e-commerce platforms during the 21 days lock-down, union home secretary Ajay Bhalla on Thursday night issued fresh instructions to States and Union Territories asking them to notify measures to specify shops, including ration units dealing with food, groceries, fruits, vegetables, milk products among others to ensure supplies.

Noting that the availability of essential goods takes place through small local retail shops, large organized retail stores and e-commerce companies, home secretary said the suppliers of essential goods, including restaurants supplying home delivery of cooked food items are exempted. “It is provided that delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment through e-Commerce will remain operational,” the order said.

According to MHA, “All facilities in the supply chain of essential goods whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods through local stores, large brick and mortar stores or e-Commerce companies should be allowed to operate ensuring strict social distancing.” Officials said the order was issued after reports of law enforcing agencies in various parts of the country clamping down movement of those involved in production and supply of essential services and goods.

“While warehousing facilities with wholesalers and retailers of essential goods might have non essential goods, they should not be closed down for the fact that non-essential items are also stored. The retail end of the supply chain shall operate only in essential goods as specified in the orders at MHA. They will provide an undertaking to this effect and also allow subsequent audit of their records with a view to ensure compliance,” it said.

MHA further cautioned on the movement of those employed in the supply chain and said, “Employees or persons engaged in the supply chain shall be allowed to commute on the basis of e-pass or any other certification Issued by the concerned local authority. In addition, the said employee/ person shall carry a valid photo identification card.”

For the unorganized sector, the home ministry said, persons engaged in supply of essential goods may be allowed based on approval and authorization issued by the local authority. It however directed the States to carry out regular health and sanitation check up of employees engaged in the supply chain to ensure that they are provided with proper protective gears.

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