The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) to ensure seamless supply of essential goods to people during the 21-day Covid-19 lockdown.
The SOP released on Thursday applies to ecommerce stores delivering essential goods, grocery stores and those under the public distribution system. This includes shops dealing with food staples, vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy and milk products, seeds, animal fodder and pesticides.
Though guidelines for essential services, including ecommerce deliveries, were issued on Tuesday, the supply chain of groceries, food and medicines was disrupted due to the lockdown restrictions on freight movement.
Ecommerce companies took to social media and met government representatives to ensure that their delivery personnel were not harassed by law enforcement authorities and their warehouses could function across states.
In Thursday’s communication, the ministry also exempted cloud kitchens and restaurants providing cooked food for delivery; warehouses and godowns of essential goods; transporters, drivers, loaders and manufacturing units of essential goods; as well as pharmaceuticals from the lockdown.
Additionally, the SOP directed state governments to run a 24x7 grievance room to register complaints.
Following are highlights of the SOP:
- Only shops and establishments registered with the state or union territory will be allowed to operate. They must provide documents supporting this for random checks.
- Operators and service providers must ensure social distancing is followed.
- Warehouses that store both non-essential and essential goods need not close. However, they must give an undertaking to the home ministry that they will operate only in essential goods services. They will be subjected to audits to ensure compliance.
- Delivery and other personnel who are part of supply chain operations must carry e-passes issued by the local authorities, apart from a photo identity card.
- Commercial establishments have been asked to work with skeletal staff. They must provide the employees with protective gear and conduct periodical sanitation checks.