COVID-19: Govt should expand the scope of essential home-facilitated services by e-commerce platforms, says Urban Company
The decision to lockdown India till May 3rd was a decisive step in halting the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve. This has helped the country limit the number of cases and prepare medical & other infrastructure for the peak when it comes.
Any alternate course of action would have led to a significantly higher infection rate. The State governments were aligned with the Centre in this action - this partnership helped make the lockdown a success.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi quickly realized that basic sustenance is as important as prevention - this pragmatic philosophy was well captured in the phrase 'Jaan Bhi Jahaan bhi'.
The guidelines released by the Ministry of Home Affairs on April 15th reflected the government approach to allow for a gradual start to economic activity.
Self-employed professionals offering such essential services such as plumber, electrician, carpenter, IT repairs, etc. found specific mention in the note reflecting intent to provide relief to consumers and allowing such individuals to start earning a livelihood. High risk areas were designated as red zones & kept under strict lockdown to prevent spread.
Many State governments adopted the MHA guidelines & allowed economic activity to resume in a gradual and measured fashion. As we approach the end of the second lockdown period, it is advisable to quickly expand the scope of essential services to include all home services, including appliance repairs and service, pest control, home cleaning, barbers, basic beauty services etc. and include e-commerce service platforms that facilitate such services and service providers.
Services at home facilitated by e-commerce platforms are a great option for consumers - they can avail these services in the comfort and safety of their homes.
All service professionals should be encouraged to strictly follow safety norms like wearing gloves & masks, following strict safety operating procedures in line with WHO guidelines and also ensuring that they stay at home in case of any disease symptoms.
Any guidelines are only as good as the on ground implementation - the State & Local authorities need to urgently smoothen out the system of e pass issuance to essential service providers.
Self-regulation by large responsible companies/corporate bodies is the need of the hour rather than relying on overburdened local administration and law enforcement agencies. Red & containment zones should continue to be closely monitored and entry/exit restricted
The time has come to ease some of the lockdown restrictions & allow citizens to avail an expanded list of essential services.
E-commerce companies have been a lifeline for consumers around the world during these tough times and should be allowed to facilitate provision of essential services in India as well - this will allow consumers to avail services from the comfort and safety of their homes through well trained safety conscious independent service professionals and also allow thousands of such self-employed professionals to start earning their livelihoods again.