NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday issued a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for maintaining smooth countrywide supply of essential goods and to ensure people do not face hardships during the 21-day lockdown. The government said persons engaged in the supply chain shall be issued an e-pass or any other certification by the local authorities concerned for ensuring their smooth movement. The said person shall carry a valid photo ID card, the SOP said.
The MHA, which is monitoring the shutdown on a daily basis, asked states and Union Territories to facilitate all providers/operators of essential goods — local retail shops, large retail stores and e-commerce companies. For the unorganised sector, the persons may be allowed based on authorisation by local authorities, MHA said, adding that commercial entities should manage with only bare minimum staff. The SOP advised establishments to carry out regular health and sanitation check-up of employees engaged in the supply chain and provide them with protective gear.
In a letter to the states/UTs, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said, “In order to ensure smooth functioning of these three types of operators, is important that following constituents of the supply chain, are also allowed to operate…restaurants supplying home delivery of cooked food, facilities for storage of such essential goods which may be known as warehouse, godown etc.” Bhalla reiterated that it was mandatory to allow transporters of essential goods to operate countrywide.Manufacturing units of essential goods including drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw material and intermediates should also be facilitated.
The SOP stated that all facilities in the supply chain of essential goods whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods through local stores, large brick and mortar stores or e-commerce firms should be allowed to operate, ensuring strict social distancing. The MHA said that warehousing facilities with wholesalers and retailers of essential goods might have non-essential goods but they should not be closed down. The ministry reiterated that states/UTs shall maintain a round the clock control room to register people’s grievances and also publicise the helpline numbers widely.