'Though the 14-day lockdown will hamper export activities, they have to accept the losses for the greater good'
Trade bodies of both knitwear and textile manufacturers have advised their respective members to keep factories closed until August 5, in compliance with the government's strict lockdown directive to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) said in a notice issued on Saturday that as the government issued a strict lockdown, knitwear factories were not out of the purview this time, hence they must remain closed.
BKMEA President AKM Salim Osman said in the notice that though the 14-day lockdown will hamper export activities, they have to accept the losses for the greater good.
He requested all 1,500 members of the BKMEA to conform with the government's directives nevertheless.
“If massive losses were incurred, they would seek incentive support from the government after the lockdown period came to an end,” he added.
Moreover, the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) also requested its members to keep their factory units closed in a separate notice on the same day.
BTMA President Mohammad Ali Khokon said in the notice that the responsibilities will lie on respective mills in case of disobedience of the restrictions declared by the government.
However, while contacting BGMEA in this regard, they said they did not issue any announcement or guidelines on closure or opening of the factory units.
Shahidullah Azim, vice president of BGMEA, told Dhaka Tribune that they urged the government to allow opening of apparel factories from August 1, before the lockdown period ended four days later.
“We will decide by monitoring the situation. Though the sector is facing losses, we will take the next decision as per the directives of the government,” he also said.
If the infection rate of Covid-19 decreases, they will appeal to the government to allow reopening factories as early as possible, he added.
However, Forhad Hossain, State Minister for Public Administration, said that the government has no plan to reopen apparel factories amid strict restrictions to prevent spread of Covid-19.
He made the remarks in response to a question from reporters after a cabinet meeting on Monday.
The government has kept units that manufacture products for preventing Covid-19, medicines, food and rawhide processing, out of the lockdown purview.
Earlier, on July 15, the BGMEA, BKMEA, BTMA, Bangladesh Terry Towel and Linen Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and Bangladesh Garments Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters Association in a joint letter urged the Prime Minister to keep their export-oriented garment and allied factories out of the purview of the strict lockdown, and allow the units to resume operations after a short Eid vacation.
According to Industrial Police, a total of 320 factories continued their production activities as per Monday and majority of those were medicine manufacturing units, food and beverage, flour, poultry and fish feed, fish processing, gas, biscuit, packaging/carton, and oxygen units.