Foxconn Technology Group, Apple Inc.’s largest iPhone assembler, stated it has resumed some manufacturing at its factories in Shenzhen after a COVID-19 outbreak and a city lockdown this week forced the company and other manufacturers to halt operations there.
Foxconn stated on Wednesday that it was able to resume manufacturing by adhering to local regulations that allow businesses to operate if they create a bubble-like environment and keep employees inside. According to the Shenzhen government, under such pandemic-control policies, employees must work, travel, and live on the factory campus and are not permitted to leave.
After an increase in COVID-19 cases, Shenzhen was placed under a one-week lockdown on Monday, the first time China has imposed such restrictions in a city of its size and importance to the economy. Restaurants and public transportation have been closed, and residents have been advised not to leave their homes or the city for non-essential reasons, as authorities race to track down infections and suppositories.
According to Foxconn, the closed-loop system “can only be done on campuses that include both employee housing and production facilities, and adheres to strict industry guidelines and close-loop management policies issued by the Shenzhen government.” “In addition, the company is closely monitoring and implementing the government’s pandemic preparedness measures.”
Shenzhen announced earlier this week that it would allow factory bubbles, in which workers travel only from company housing to plants and are tested on a regular basis, as a means of mitigating the economic impact of the lockdown. Foxconn is the most visible company to say it is taking advantage of the policy, which is similar to measures put in place in Wuhan as the city emerged from a months-long state of emergency.
The shift demonstrates that China is attempting to strike a balance between its COVID Zero policy of containing outbreaks and avoiding disruption to the world’s second-largest economy.
After months of being virus-free, the country is now experiencing regular virus outbreaks as the more communicable omicron variant evades previously successful curbs. With infections nationwide at a two-year high, China has imposed more lockdowns in the last week than at any other point in the pandemic, with Shenzhen, Langfang City near Beijing, Changchun in the northeast, and then its neighbouring province, Jilin, all putting movement restrictions in place. According to Nomura Holdings Inc. and Morgan Stanley, China’s resource-intensive approach to containing COVID– a strategy that has resulted in one of the lowest death tolls in the world – has dampened the country’s growth outlook.