Walmart-owned Flipkart temporarily closes in India as the nation goes under lockdown

Walmart-owned Flipkart temporarily closes in India as the nation goes under lockdown

Last night, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced a 21-day long nationwide lockdown in the country to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. That’s upturned a lot of how India operates.

This morning, Walmart-owned Flipkart said that it’s temporarily suspending all its delivery services. The megastore’s site is also closed at the moment; the homepage displays a message letting users know about the company’s decision, and all products are labeled ‘out of stock.’

The company didn’t provide any clarity as to when its operations will resume:

We are temporarily suspending our services. Your needs have always been our priority, and our promise is that we will be back to serve you, as soon as possible.

We’ve asked Flipkart for more details, and we’ll update the story if we hear back.

The company is still offering bill payment and video streaming services that don’t require any delivery personnel to be deployed.

Yesterday, Flipkart‘s rival, Amazon India said it’s prioritizing essential goods such as household staples, packaged goods, and house staples.

A report by the Economic Times suggests that despite essential services are exempted from the lockdown in the country, local authorities are shutting down warehouses or stopping trucks from entering a state. The report also notes that the dearth of delivery people is making it more difficult to fulfill orders.

As sociologist Aditi Surie points out in The Hindu points out, these people are taking a huge risk to deliver goods to people, as companies are not presently not providing any provisions to delivery personnel or gig workers. Some of these firms are only offering insurance if they get infected with COVID-19.

India is currently grappling with living under quarantine, and a large part of citizens’ well-being in cities depends on them having safe and reliable access to groceries, medicines, and other essentials. With that in mind, the government would do well to ensure that delivery services run smoothly and operate safely.

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