BREAKING: India Shuts Factories, Locks Down Country for 21 Days to Contain Coronavirus Crisis

Date: Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Source: Sourcing Journal

Starting Wednesday, India will be under complete lockdown as it looks to stave off the coronavirus pandemic that is quickly spreading within its borders.

Some parts of the country had been locked down for the past two days, but starting Wednesday, movement will be restricted nationwide for the next 21 days, with limited exceptions.

“From 12 midnight tonight, the entire country will go under a complete lockdown,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday. “To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes. Every state, every union territory, every district, every village and every locality is being put under a lockdown.”

That means factories will be shuttered until April 14, and already pressured production could face further strain.

When talk had originally surfaced about the lockdown lasting for one week, Ritesh Nair, co-founder of India-based sustainable sourcing company Iipi Sourcing, said, “Yes, there are orders being impacted, but if it’s a matter of a week, the gap will be covered up without much delay.”

Now that the lockdown will be three times longer than first expected, the impact is less certain. The pandemic’s spread, however, is more certain.

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 415 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India. On Tuesday, India’s health ministry said that number had climbed to 536, following trends seen elsewhere around the world.

All commercial and private establishments that aren’t dealing in critical needs, like food stuffs and medical supplies, will now be closed. All manufacturing facilities, with the exception of those producing “essential commodities” must remain shuttered.

Communications did not further outline what will be considered an essential commodity, but already the apparel factories are closed. Transportation services in some places have also ground to halt. Non-exempt citizens found breaking the stay-at-home order could face imprisonment.

Because the lockdown will also drive down demand, some don’t believe the impacts will be all that far reaching.

“Shops and malls across India are closed and demand too is down. Hence the factory closure will not impact business much,” Kamal Nandi, business head at Godrej Appliances and president of electronics industry body CEAMA, told India’s Economic Times. “Apparel and lifestyle goods brands have also shut their factories.”

How things progress or slow in terms of the virus spread over the next three weeks will determine what happens next in India. But for now, Modi has emphasized the severity of his order.

“The next 21 days are crucial for us, as per health experts, a minimum of 21 days is most crucial to break the cycle of infection,” he said. “If we are not able to manage this pandemic in the next 21 days, the country and your family will be setback by 21 years.”


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