Affected by the COVID wave, companies in China strain to maintain normal operations
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pandemic prevention workers in protective suits cross the street as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to break out in Beijing, December 9, 2022. REUTERS/ Thomas Peter/File Photo
By Joe Cash, Ellen Zhang and Sophie Yu
BEIJING (Reuters) – From e-commerce giant JD (NASDAQ:).com to cosmetics brand Sephora, companies in China are rushing to mitigate the impact of the growing COVID-19 contagion – offer testing kits, encourage more work from home and, in some cases, shop truckloads of drugs.
After unprecedented protests against often draconian COVID containment measures, the world’s second-largest economy abruptly abandoned its zero-tolerance stance on COVID last week. The subsequent violent spread of the virus has even forced some businesses to close for the time being.
Typically, in cities like Beijing and Wuhan, many workers and their families have died from COVID, although the official number of infections has fallen below a fifth from the peak on May 27. 11 because China now conducts much less testing.
“More than half of our employees at shopping malls and hotels have positive results,” said a senior executive at a company that manages one of the North’s largest retail complexes. Kinh said.
The unnamed executive said the mall remained open with the remaining employees split into two groups and only one working specific shifts.
Shift-sharing systems are also being implemented by other companies, Chinese regulators and state banks.
JD.com, which is based in Beijing and employs more than 540,000 people, has sent antigen testing kits to its staff and asked those who are sick to stay home, company sources told Reuters.
At Sephora China, which has 321 stores across 89 cities on the mainland, each store is handling staffing issues in accordance with their situation, a brand spokesperson said. learn more that all employees who test positive will be given paid leave and can work from home if possible.
At another shopping mall in Beijing, a gym belonging to the US Powerhouse chain said on Tuesday it would be closed until December 25 to disinfect the facility and protect the safety of its employees and employees. member.
“The spread of the virus is very serious and there is a great risk of infection,” the gymnasium said. It just reopened five days ago after being closed for more than two weeks due to districtwide COVID restrictions.
“It’s frustrating. Businesses have to close because employees are sick, even though they can legally stay open,” said Noah Fraser, chief executive officer at the North-based Canada-China Business Council. Kinh said.
“The blame is starting to fall from the headquarters of (foreign) companies to the team in China, with HQ asking ‘why can’t operations in China get around these restrictions? ‘ All other markets have had to adjust and have done so successfully,” he said.
Some factories and eateries are maintaining COVID-19 restrictions, including a so-called closed system intended to isolate employees from the wider world, until they have a better understanding of what they are doing. How will the workplace be affected?
At Volkswagen (ETR:), which has seen its factories in China severely disrupted by lockdowns this year, production is currently stabilizing but the automaker has Reduce the number of employees coming into the office and ask employees to stay 1.5 meters apart whenever possible, a spokesman said.
Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio (NYSE: NYSE: NYSE) also said its production operations are still normal, although it is preparing to deal with the epidemic.
Nio President Qin Lihong said at a media roundtable on Monday: “We have sent a truckload of drugs and equipment to the factory for a thorough preparation.
National health officials have so far offered few comments on workplace conditions, only urging that high-risk areas should be defined much more narrowly, while manufacturing or Business continues elsewhere.
Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, said he believes it will take some time for Chinese households to learn to live with the virus, and it could take three to six months. consumer activity returns to “something like normal”. .”
“So even if the diversion from COVID will benefit most businesses in the medium term, it won’t provide immediate relief and the next few months will still be very difficult.”