FAQ: Are Soaps and Sanitary Pads Now Enlisted as Essential Goods?

Sanitary napkins wasn't a part of the list of essential goods until 29 March.

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FAQ
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A file image of people wearing face masks in the wake of coronavirus pandemic standing in a queue to buy groceries, at Churchgate in Mumbai.
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Sanitary napkins wasn't a part of the list of essential goods until 29 March. Yes, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had to issue an addendum to its order on lockdown rules to explain the list of its essential goods.

This addendum specifies allowing of manufacturing and transport of products like soap and sanitary napkins. In a tweet, Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani clarified that with this letter, sanitary napkins is now an “essential commodity.” This, after concerns were raised over the lack of availability of sanitary napkins.

What does this MHA addendum mean for you? Here’s a quick guide.

As India reels from the COVID-19 virus outbreak, and the subsequent lockdown, The Quint is answering any, and all questions you may have about the crisis. Email us at covid19faqs@thequint.com and read our other FAQs here.

What are essential goods under the new MHA order?

According to the MHA letter to the states, essential items will also now include:

  • Sanitary napkins

  • Diapers

  • Soaps and detergents

  • Surface cleaners and disinfectants

  • Body wash and shampoos

  • Tissue papers, toothpaste and other oral care products

  • Battery cells and chargers

What were essential items in the initial MHA order issued when lockdown was announced?

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Rice, wheat flour, other cereals and pulses

  • Sugar and salt, spices and masalas

  • Bakery and dairy, including milk and milk products

  • Tea and coffee

  • Eggs, meat and fish, food grains, oil

  • Masala and food ingredients

  • Packaged food and beverages

  • Health supplements

  • Food for special dietary use and food for special medical purpose

  • Infant and baby food

  • Animal feed and pet food

  • Food delivery services and e-commerce for these above mentioned products

  • Cold storage and warehousing of food products

  • Fuel such as coal, rice husk, diesel/furnace oil and others necessary to run manufacturing plants and factories

  • All raw materials, intermediaries, packaging materials needed to support the above products

You can read the rest of the MHA letter here.

  • Page 1 of the letter by Home Secretary to Chief Secretary of all states. 
  • Page 2 of the letter by Home Secretary to Chief Secretary of all states. 

Okay, can I go out to buy soap? What about sanitary napkins?

While the MHA letter to the states allows for production and transportation of products like soap and sanitary napkins, whether they are considered “essential goods” to be allowed to venture out during a lockdown is not clarified.

What else does the MHA letter say?

Apart from allowing transportation of all goods, the letter by the Home Ministry's Chief Secretary also says that newspaper delivery supply chains is also allowed. It also clearly states that services of the Red Cross Society and the Employees Provident Fund Organisation are exempt from lockdown restrictions.

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