Sunday, May 9, 2021

Indian state clamps down on e-commerce, shuts most manufacturing to fight Covid surge

Livelihoods are important, but life is more important, says the state chief minister.

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From Wednesday, Maharashtra, India’s richest state, will impose stringent curbs on industry and e-commerce for 15 days to slow skyrocketing coronavirus infections.

Commentators say the move will temporarily cripple manufacturing and other businesses in the region.

The more stringent restrictions announced on Tuesday said no one should “move in public places without valid reasons” and all non-essential services will remain closed.

State Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday decreed that most establishments and public places will be closed except those which are deemed essential, including grocery shops, hospitals, banks and stock exchanges.

“All factories and industries” barring some export-oriented units and those making items needed for essential services “must stop their operations”, a government notification said.

The curbs will likely hit auto giants like Tata Motors, Bajaj Auto, and Mahindra & Mahindra, which operate factories in the state.

E-commerce deliveries will be allowed but only for essential products, the government said, a decision that will affect deliveries and online ordering on companies like Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart.

“Livelihoods are important, but life is more important. We need to increase existing restrictions,” Thackeray said.

The stronger curbs will undoubtedly jolt businesses in Maharashtra but also risk having a broader impact on the Indian economy as a whole, says Reuters.

The state accounts for nearly 15% of India’s gross domestic product, making it crucial for the country’s economic recovery after months of slowdown.

Maharashtra shut down restaurants, bars, gyms, theatres, and non-essential stores last week, a move some industry groups had warned will cause economic losses of billions of dollars.

Shooting of films and advertisements will also be closed in the state which is home to India’s Bollywood film industry.

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