The BGMEA has recommended closure of factories, except those making PPE, amid the horror of coronavirus that is costing lives and wealth across the world.
The apex body of apparel exporters also said if any member factory keeps its operation on, it must be on their own responsibility.
The recommendation came at an emergency meeting of the board of directors as the association is not empowered to close or keep open any factory one day after the government's announcement to go for a 10-day nationwide lockdown that began on Thursday.
"Factories, if they decide to keep it open, will have to ensure maximum safety and hygiene for their workers and will have to take responsibility," said Rubana Haq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
However, she said factories wanting to make PPE can remain open and their workers can move. She said some manufacturers have donated fabrics to make those products for free.
Meanwhile, the onslaught of the virus continues to bleed garment exporters as they have faced cancellation and holding of export orders worth $2.67 billion as of Thursday. As many factories have no future orders, they find no reason keep their factories open.
"Customers are not placing any orders as they are on a stockpile. I have no new order and there is hardly any chance that it will come before May," said one exporter who has seven garment and textile factories, employing over 15,000 people.
He is unsure about reopening his factories in the next three months, even though the government has announced Tk5,000 crore incentives for paying wages of export-oriented factories.
Dird Group, another exporter with six factories, has closed down their operations amidst fear of coronavirus, said its Managing Director Itemad-Ud-Daulah.
Mohammad Hatem, vice president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told The Business Standard on Thursday that most knitwear factories remain open as they have some orders to be finished soon.
Monsoor Ahmed, secretary of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, also said that most of the spinning mills are in operations.
He said some millers have export orders and they still need fabrics to make the products ready for shipment.
"Some textile mills remain on to meet additional demand for fabrics ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr," he told The Business Standard.