Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association has asked all knitting factories to shut to stem the spread of coronavirus while Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has recommended closure of apparel factories if it is necessary.
The government, however, said it has not given any shutdown order to export-oriented factories which have orders from global buyers or are involved in producing emergency goods such as Personal Protective Equipment, masks, gloves, handwash, hand sanitiser and medicine, according to a notice issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment on Friday.
All those different directives have led to confusion and hesitation among many factory owners and workers. It is now not even known how many factories are running and how many are closed.
Selim Osman, president of the board of directors of the BKMEA, said they had already instructed all the factories to remain close from March 25 to April 4, according to a press release.
He said: "If people survive, then the industries will survive and bring prosperity for the country. For the sake of the country, the government has ordered to shut all the organisations now."
Mentioning Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's incentive package for export-oriented industries, Salim Osman said following the government's decision, instructions have been issued to close all knitwear factories till April 4.
He also asked the factory authorities to instruct their workers to remain where they are during this time to curb coronavirus spread.
The BKMEA instructed its members to make the workers aware of the current situation and ensure they stay in their present living places.
Earlier on March 25, BKMEA urged members to keep factories open by ensuring adequate safety and close those that don't have work orders.
A total 2, 292 knitwear factories are registered with the BKMEA.
BGMEA President Rubana Huq urged the owners to consider closing their factories on Thursday. However, if a factory decides to run it will have to abide by the highest hygiene and safety measures for the workers, she added.
As per a piece of information obtained by The Business Standard on Friday, some factories under the BGMEA have already shut and some are in the process.
The government announced the closure of all public and private offices from March 26 to April 04 to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Until now, Bangladesh has recorded a total of 48 Covid-19 cases and reported five deaths
The pandemic broke out in China in December last year and has now spread in 196 countries across the globe.