On Monday, the country recorded its highest single-day death toll from the pandemic, with 119 deaths. The government has announced that it will close public transport networks and ask people to stay at home from July 1 for seven days.
The clothing industry, which employs 4.5 million people and accounts for 80% of the country’s exports, was initially told it could remain open during this lockdown.
However, a representative of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association told Drapers that the industry is awaiting a government announcement on whether or not factories will shut down. Bangladesh factories have been open throughout the pandemic, except for a five-week period in April, when they were forced to close.
Anil Srivastava, managing director of KL Design Group, which supplies retailers like Primark and Peacocks, is concerned about potential closures: “If we close, that will mean we won’t be able to send packages or receive payments.”
He added that closing factories could lead to further spread of Covid-19 as it would lead to thousands of workers returning to their villages of origin.
Miran Ali, managing director of Bitopi, which has five garment factories in the country and employs 1,500 workers, is confident that the factories will remain open and that adequate social distancing measures are in place.
He expects sales and orders to return to 2019 levels by October of this year: “I think this lockdown is going to be tight, but I don’t expect a major disruption in the industry. clothing. “
Ali said the factories adhere to safety guidelines developed by the Bangladeshi government in collaboration with the International Labor Organization (ILO). This includes social distancing requirements within the factory, staggered entry times, hand washing and shoe disinfection.
While inter-district public transport will be on the decline, the majority of factory workers live near factories. Srivastava of KL Design Group said mid-level or higher-level management would find it difficult to enter the factory if it was left open during the lockdown.
Apu Baidya, managing director of Fammas International and Alex Fashion, agreed that buyers would find it difficult to get to work: “Garment [workers] cannot enter factories properly due to transit closure. “
Christopher Rogers, senior researcher at shipping data company Panjiva, said that Bangladesh exports so far have remained resilient during the pandemic, but that trend could now be reversed: May 2021 with growth of 6 , 2% from May 2019. H&M related shipments increased 13.5% during the three months ended May 31 compared to the same period of 2019. Imports associated with Levi Strauss & Co and PVH Corp , meanwhile, fell by 47.8% and 68.7%, respectively, over the same period.
“While this is primarily a human tragedy, the renewed spread and resulting lockdown will also impact industrial supply chains, as factories will likely have to shut down and experience reduced productivity.”