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#StartupsVsCovid19: OTAs Wait To Resume Operations As Railway Ticketing Opens Up On Lockdown Day 48

#StartupsVsCovid19: OTAs Wait To Resume Operations As Railway Ticketing Opens Up On Lockdown Day 48

Train booking is limited to IRCTC mobile-based app and website

IRCTC said rail services to 15 select routes will begin from May 12

OTAs await the go-ahead from the government to resume ticketing

On day 48 of the lockdown, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) reopened online ticketing for railway passengers. As of now, train booking is limited to the IRCTC mobile-based app and website and no ticket sale will take place through counters. IRCTC said rail services to 15 select routes will begin from May 12.

However, online travel agencies (OTA) still remain in the dark as they haven’t received any information on resuming operations for train ticket bookings. The current Covid-19 pandemic has crippled OTAs, not just in India but globally as there has been a two months gap in both international and domestic flights. Besides this, India had also blocked all passenger trains, intercity travel. This has hit the Indian startups in the domain hard.

Aarogya Setu Might Become Mandatory For Air Travel

As Indian looks to reopen air travel again for domestic flights, the government is planning to make it mandatory for flyers to install Aarogya Setu on their smartphones.

According to a draft note circulated by the civil aviation ministry, people whose Aarogya Setu app is not ‘green’ are not to be allowed inside the terminal building. The directives were set by a committee which has proposed the use of Aarogya Setu among other steps.

Meanwhile, a new plea was filed in the Kerala High Court against the mandatory use of the Aarogya Setu by employees. The plea, filed by the managing partner of Leetha Industries Jackson Mathew, said that the directive by the central government is unconstitutional and infringes on privacy. Mathew said that contact tracing apps are experimental technology and their efficacy is strongly contested.

Zomato Extends Gold Membership

Gurugram-based foodtech platform Zomato is extending the Gold memberships of all the users across countries by four more months. In a tweet, cofounder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said, “This covers India, UAE, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Philippines, Indonesia, Turkey and Lebanon.”

In March, Zomato had extended Gold memberships by two months as most of the restaurants were closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Overall, the membership has extended by six months.

Startups Assist Covid-19 Fight

In the fight against Covid-19, many startups have extended monetary help while others have donated healthcare equipment for the people working inside hospitals. Going forward, B2B ecommerce platform Bizongo said that it has delivered over 2 lakh personal protective equipment (PPE) kits across 5,500 localities servicing 127 organisations spread in 57 urban and rural centres across the country. Bizongo has also supplied these kits to Zomato, Shadowfax, Swiggy, BigBasket and Urban Company as they are continuing to provide essential services during the lockdown.

Moreover, the department of consumer affairs has partnered with startups Safejob and Seekify to prevent the spread of Covid at the local kirana store level. The objective of this project is to educate store owners across the country about the Covid-19 safety guidelines and protocols required to be followed while running their businesses.