More than 500 garment factories in Bangladesh that supply to global brands reopened on Monday after a month-long shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, while India considered ways to scale back its vast lockdown to reduce economic pain.
Some of the world’s biggest clothing firms including Gap Inc, Zara-owner Inditex and H&M source their supplies from Bangladesh, which allowed garment manufacturers in the capital Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong to resume work from the start of this week.
“We are making sure the workers wear masks, wash hands at the entrance, undergo temperature checks, and maintain physical distancing,” said Mohammad Hatem, vice president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Bangladesh is home to around 4,000 garment factories employing 4.1 million workers, and industry groups for the sector had warned that the shutdown that began on March 26 could cause the country to lose $6 billion in export revenue this financial year.
Competitors such as Vietnam, China and Cambodia have already resumed operations, Hatem said.
Bangladesh reported nearly 500 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday to take the total to 5,913 of whom 152 have died.
While the country has allowed garment and other factories to reopen, much of the rest of the economy is still shut down and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told government officials on Monday that schools and colleges may have to remain closed until September if the situation did not improve.