The Karnataka government has said that e-commerce platforms will be allowed to deliver all goods during the 14-day statewide lockdown that kicks off on Tuesday night. The decision comes as the government grapples with a surge in Covid-19 cases in Bengaluru.

The guidelines, released late on Monday evening, also said that home-delivery of all items would be allowed in the state, balancing the demands of offline traders, who have protested against e-commerce firms being allowed to function while their establishments were shut.

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The guidelines say that the state would allow delivery of “all goods through e-commerce and home delivery” without making any distinction between essential and non-essential products as states such as Maharashtra, Delhi and a few others have done over the past few weeks.

“They’ve (Karnataka government) allowed both e-commerce and shops to function through home deliveries. This is what we’ve been asking for all along,” said a senior executive at a leading e-commerce marketplace. “This will allow consumers to stay safe at home.”

Apart from not imposing curbs on e-commerce, the state also said that it was encouraging 24×7 deliveries of essential items to “minimise the movement of individuals outside their homes”, while restricting the operations of shops selling groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meats to just four hours a day — 6 am to 10 am.

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Hari Menon, co-founder and CEO of BigBasket, said that orders from the state surged soon after Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced the new restrictions.

“In terms of business nothing changes because delivery of essentials is going to be allowed,” said Menon. “Typically in a situation like this demand tends to shoot up, but we’re okay in terms of supply. The only problem we’re facing is people are falling ill.” ET had reported last week so many delivery agents are testing positive every day that e-commerce firms have all had to
announce new hiring sprees to meet the soaring demand.

Menon told ET on Thursday that BigBasket has seen orders shoot up by 23-25% across India in April compared to the previous month.

Grofers said it saw orders spike by 3X in the region after the government’s announcement on Monday.

Another executive said Karnataka’s guidelines could set the template for other BJP-run states that are planning lockdowns.

“Despite the heavy caseload in Bengaluru, the Karnataka government has taken a view that the economy is important too,” said another e-commerce executive, who did not wish to be named. “E-commerce will certainly benefit as consumers will want reliable and affordable products delivered home quickly. We will work with offline stores as well.”



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