It’s been a confusing week to say the least. States have issued a lockdown for its citizens, only giving permission to essential services to operate. In circulars, essential services have included print and electronic media, hospitals, eateries (only for delivery), hospitals and medical stores, and internet and telecommunication services just to name a few.
On Tuesday night, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his speech, he mentioned the 21-day lockdown, the dangers of coronavirus, and the roles of police, media, and medical staff to tackle coronavirus. He, however, did not clarify whether essential services would be operational – something he probably realized later and tweeted about it. State governments too, were quick to point this out and mentioned that essential services would be open, but it was too late. Even as midnight drew closer, people were seen queuing outside their local stores to stock up.
And then, there was an even bigger blunder. The government had not mentioned delivery services such as Zomato, Swiggy, Grofers, Big Bazaar, and Big Basket as part of essential services. Local officials were not notified of the same, as this IAS officer in Haryana showed. A tweet shared by Albinder Dhindsa said, “Our Grofers warehouse in Faridabad was closed by law enforcement agencies today. While we understand they are doing their duty, essential items will be denied to 20,000-plus household in Faridabad and Delhi every day.”
Yadav Yashpal, the local IAS officer replied to Grofers saying that they will consider their request on merit, after Grofers writes to the GM, DIC Faridabad.
It’s not just Grofers. Big Basket too witnessed similar problems. “We regret the inconvenience caused, we are not operational due to restrictions imposed by local authorities on movement of goods in spite of clear guidelines provided by central authorities to enable essential services. We are working with the authorities to be back soon,” they tweeted.
Naturall this has not gone down well with people who were critical of the lack of planning.