Mask suppliers unable to reach chemists amid lockdown

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New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) As the 21-day lockdown kicks in, there have been several reports of people involved in essential services facing difficulties in delivery. The situation has been no different for suppliers of masks, considered frontline defence against the coronavirus infection.
Speaking to IANS, Sanjeev Sahani, owner of Noida-based Garb Merchandisers which supplies masks said his company was unable to supply masks on Wednesday to chemists due to the restrictions.
“I am manufacturing face mask, but I am not allowed to travel to Noida from Delhi. The workers are not allowed to come to work. My sales person is not allowed to visit chemists to deliver the stock,” Sahani, who stays in Greater Kailash area of Delhi told IANS.
He noted that his company generally makes apparrels, but took to mask production given the need of the hour.
He said he and his employees are asked to show a pass which he said that would take time to be issued and even movement for getting the pass issued was not allowed.
People facing issues even for essential services were of the opinion that the instructions from the government has not trickled down well.
“What the government has said and what is being followed on the ground is very different,” Sahani said.
This issue is not unique to the National Capital Region. A twitter handle by the name @gshivashimpi77 said on twitter: “Employees of some companies coming under the essential sector have commute to work place. They need to convince police that they have to go to workplace.”
E-commerce service providers also faced similar issues and their delivery personnels were restricted and even beaten up by the police in some instances.
However, after temporarily suspending all of its operations and services during the COVID-19 lockdown, etailer Flipkart on Wednesday said it will resume its grocery and essentials services post assurance from the government.
Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO Flipkart Group, said the government has given the company assurance to resume its essential services.
“We have been assured of safe and smooth passage of our supply chain and delivery executives by local law enforcement authorities and are resuming our grocery & essentials services later today,” Krishnamurthy said in a statement, adding the company is grateful for the clarification provided by the government and local state authorities on the functioning of e-commerce as an essential service.
There were multiple reports of delivery boys being beaten up. Twitter users posted photos of some delivery boys with bruises on their bodies.
An Amazon spokesperson said the company appreciates that the government has recognised ecommerce as essential service to help citizens remain at home and maintain social distancing.
“We are working with the Central government and local authorities, asking them to help us urgently with detailed on-ground operating procedures, to ensure delivery of priority goods such as household staples, health and hygiene products, sanitizers, baby formula, and medical supplies safely across the country to our customers’ homes without any disruption,” the spokesperson said.
In a message to customers, grocery and milk delivery website MilkBasket said it was forced to dump 15,000 litres of milk and 10,000 kg of vegetables.
By Wednesday afternoon, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs directed all states and Union Territories to exempt the supply chain and transportation of essential goods and services in the face of the 21-day lockdown across the country over the coronavirus pandemic, which is likely to ensure smooth functioning of the essential services.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday evening announced the nationwide lockdown till April 14 in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Ministry as of Wednesday, thereare at least 606 confirmed coronavirus cases in India. Of this, 553 are active cases, 42 patients have recovered and been discharged from the hospital and 10 people have lost their lives.