International clothing brands and retailers either cancelled or put on hold orders of apparel products worth over $2.25 billion due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, exporters said.
They are now faced with a dilemma over whether to keep production units running or not as it is a matter related to over four million workers' monthly payments.
Under this situation, apparel exporters are now waiting for a decision in this regard from the prime minister's address to the nation scheduled for this (Wednesday) evening.
"As we still have some orders, we have to run the factory. But the problem is that there is no way to ship any product," seeking anonymity, an apparel exporter told The Business Standard.
He also alleged that the government announced general holidays for the private sector, but kept the garment sector out of it.
He opined that the government might be expecting factory owners to make a decision in this regard.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Director Asif Ibrahim said all the members of the association have been advised to abide by all the rules of the labour law if they want to shut their factories.
"According to our information, seven factories have so far closed," he said.
But he declined to disclose the names of the factories considering the present situation.
According to the labour rights group, however, the number of closed factories is nine.
Work orders for some 697.47 million pieces of garment items have either been held off or cancelled as of 6pm on Tuesday (March 24), according to BGMEA statistics.
The total value of these orders was calculated based on the data registered on the BGMEA web portal during the last six days, Ibrahim said.
This will affect about 1.44 lakh workers, he added.