The BS Yeddyurappa-led Karnataka government has put out a new set of covid-related restrictions for the state, effective 9:00 pm Wednesday for two weeks. While a night curfew will be enforced from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am on weekdays, weekends will see a total curfew.
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According to Annexure 1A of the guidelines, e-commerce and other home deliveries are allowed during the night curfew on weekdays. But there is no mention of e-commerce in Annexure 1B that details the guidelines for the weekend curfew. Annexure 1B simply says, “home delivery of essential items shall be encouraged to minimise movement of individuals outside their homes” during the weekend curfew.
This has created a Maharashtra-type of situation for e-commerce firms as they are clueless about what according to the government constitutes “essentials” and “non-essentials”.
“Can e-commerce continue to cater to the needs of customers in the safety of their homes on weekends,” an executive at an e-commerce firm asked.
Karnataka’s partial lockdown follows similar or more severe restrictions in other states. While Delhi, Rajasthan and Maharashtra have imposed curbs on e-commerce operations, allowing delivery of essentials only, Chhattisgarh has totally blocked online retail. Tamil Nadu’s notification on weekend restrictions also lacks clarity. The e-commerce firms have sought clarifications there too.
According to an executive at an e-commerce firm, online retailers are not in favour of classifying items as essential and non-essential goods as it creates confusion and scope for interpretation by policemen. With governments encouraging work-from-home till the Covid-19 cases, computers and peripherals too have become essential tools for professionals, but the notifications are silent about these.