E-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart have urged the government to allow them to sell non-essential items during the lockdown put in place to control the spread of Covid-19, NDTV reported on Monday.

The businesses of most e-commerce companies have been widely affected since March 25 last month, when the government first imposed the lockdown and banned the sale of non-essential goods through these platforms. E-commerce companies delivering essential goods were instructed to get permissions from state governments in order to operate.

Both Amazon India and Flipkart said they will deliver the items in a safe and secure way while ensuring social distancing, and stressed on people’s need of these products over a prolonged period.

“E-commerce offers the safest way for sellers/retailers to serve the needs of citizens while ensuring social distancing,” a spokesperson for Amazon India told NDTV. “We are committed to keep citizens safe and urge the government to enable e-commerce to play its role in the joint fight against the pandemic by allowing the supply of all goods that people need over a prolonged period.”

Amazon India said allowing e-commerce firms to sell all items will help “hundreds of thousands of small businesses jump start their livelihoods”.

Meanwhile, Flipkart said e-commerce can help people with their requirements in a safe and secure way while ensuring social distancing. “E-commerce can also support in easing the burden of piled up inventory of micro, small and medium enterprises and help in the delivery of these products to consumers in a safe and secure way while following the robust safety standard operating procedures,” the company said.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on April 24 issued an order allowing all shops in residential areas – except those in malls and shopping complexes – to reopen. However, it clarified that sale by e-commerce companies will continue to be permitted for essential goods only. Moreover, the reopening of shops is dependent on approval of state governments.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on April 14 extended the lockdown till May 3. So far, the country has recorded 27,892 cases and 872 deaths from the coronavirus, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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