Skip to main content

Bangladesh Garment Factories Exempt from National Lockdown

Although Bangladesh will go under lockdown from Wednesday, with malls, offices, public transport and commercial flights shuddering to a halt, garment factories nationwide will continue to function. The Bangladesh government announced its decision to allow manufacturers to operate, responding to a torrent of requests and strident statements from concerned factory owners still recovering from coronavirus disruptions.

Although the week-long lockdown aims at curbing a troubling rise in Covid-19 cases, it is widely expected that the quarantine could be extended through the end of the month, bumping up against the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.

Manufacturers have been lobbying for factories to stay open given the harsh conditions faced by migrant workers in April last year as the sudden lockdown left many stranded, as well as the additional loss of business and orders that would go on standby given the combination of lockdown and the upcoming holiday in May.

In the last week, Bangladesh has been following selective lockdown, with malls and offices functioning for a limited time, yet Covid-19 cases continue to rise and on Sunday, Bangladesh witnessed the highest number of Covid-related deaths in one day.

Bangladesh is the second-largest manufacturer of apparel in the world after China, and garment production accounts for more than 80 percent of the country’s exports. Manufacturers urged the government to support the industry, which was already damaged by the effects of the pandemic over the past year. In the first seven months of the fiscal year starting July 2020, the industry saw a decline of 3.44 percent, and manufacturers are wary about losing more orders given the tough global sourcing conditions.

Starting April 14, most international flights will also be cancelled, although cargo flights will continue.

Manufacturers said that they would continue to follow enhanced safety precautions. “We will be more careful than we were before about following hygiene rules,” said Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of the Exporters Association of Bangladesh.