Any person who has conducted a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test before April 10 and has a receipt for it will be allowed to work until April 15 even if the report hasn’t been received, the Maharashtra government said in an order dated April 9 to all collectors and municipal commissioners in the state.
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“It is understood that due to the load on the RT-PCR testing infrastructure in the state, the reports of the tests for many people will not be available to them by April 10,” the state government said in the order, a copy of which ET has reviewed.
A senior executive at a large e-commerce company told ET that a majority of its last-mile delivery and warehousing workforce had done the RT-PCR test, but only about half of them had received their reports by Friday night.
“The (Maharashtra) government has finally acknowledged the problem with RT-PCR testing in the state. Anyone with the SMS for having done the RT-PCR test will be allowed to operate, which is good. However this isn’t a public notification, so there could be some gaps in implementing the rule on the ground, which we’ve seen happen in the past also,” the executive said on condition of anonymity.
The state government’s order came alongside a directive allowing RT-PCR tests to be substituted with rapid antigen tests due to the load on the Covid-19 testing infrastructure. The government mandated that a majority of on-ground workers in the state would need to be tested once every 15 days starting April 11.
Many e-commerce and online food-delivery companies are said to have asked the state government for an extension of the deadline to get their workers tested.
Other people that ET spoke to acknowledged that the state had granted frontline workers and companies that employ them some relief, but said that they were waiting to see how the order would be implemented and did not offer any official comment on the matter.
The clarification comes when delivery workers of e-commerce companies have already started being policed, forcing companies to issue letters stating that the holders of the letter had been granted all necessary permissions to carry out their jobs as per central and state guidelines.
ET has reviewed letters issued by staffing solutions company Quess Corp. on behalf of workers outsourced to Amazon in the Mumbai area on April 6, stating that the worker was processing deliveries of essential products to customers in adherence of all central and state guidelines.
According to industry estimates, Maharashtra could have 300,000-400,000 workers employed by e-commerce and food-delivery companies in roles ranging from delivery executives, warehouse workers and others in the supply chain. The state’s order mandating testing was for workers in all frontline roles, and not just for delivery agents.