New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The central government on Sunday allowed online shopping and E-commerce websites to operate in all zones, except containment zones, during the fourth phase of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. 

"In lockdown 3.0, E-commerce activities were allowed in the red zones, but only for essential items. The guidelines for lockdown 4.0 do not make any such distinction. Therefore, e-commerce activities -- for both essential and non-essential items -- will be allowed in the red zones too," the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in its order.

However, the state governments would still take the final call on allowing businesses to function based on their local needs and situations, the Home Ministry added. 

Also Read | Lockdown 4.0: Here is what's allowed and what's not from May 18 | Complete list of MHA guidelines

This means that E-commerce websites like Amazon and Flipkart will be allowed to operate in non-containment zones too. E-commerce websites were only allowed to sell only essential services during the first three phases of the lockdown.

The government's move to allow E-commerce to operate in lockdown 4.0 will deliver a major boost to the companies that were earlier allowed to sell only essential goods.

Earlier, the government had allowed allowed the sale of mobile phones, refrigerators, clothes, television sets and laptops through e-commerce platforms but after Confederation of Indian Traders (CAIT) criticisim, it was forced to withdraw its decision. 

Meanwhile, several E-commerce websites had earlier said that they were ready and equipped to now start serving customers all across India - in red, green and orange zones.

Also Read: Lockdown 4.0 | Inter-state movement of vehicles, buses to be allowed; metro rail services, air travel to remain shut till May 31

"This is also the moment that will enable lakhs of medium and small online sellers to start rebuilding their businesses as they serve the needs of users in cities and towns across India,Snapdeal spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.

The government on Sunday evening issued guidelines for the fourth phase of the coronavirus lockdown after the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) asked the states to extend the restrictions till May 31.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma