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Interview: How Do We Resume the Operation of Factories During the COVID-19 in Chongqing?

By James AlexanderICHONGQING|Feb 29,2020

Chongqing – Operation resumes in Bishan Hi-tech Industrial Park.

In late January, the COVID-19 outbreak triggered a level one public health response in Chongqing, with the result that operations stopped in order to implement disease control measures.

A month later, over ten thousand enterprises have re-opened in Chongqing, meaning that almost 740,000 employees have also returned to work. 

The Bishan Hi-Tech Industrial Park has played a significant role in this upturn, so iChongqing arranged a meeting with Mr. Liu Wenyue, the head of the park’s Development Bureau, to discuss the inside story.

An overview of the process

First of all, the initial response was to establish a task force under a single leadership, so that oversight and coordination could proceed effectively.

There are 1128 enterprises within the industrial park, so the committee divided the area into seven sections and assigned teams to record relevant details of all the businesses and employees.

The second stage involved creating a mechanism for operations to resume. This included a system of accountability in disease control, a set of pre-conditions, the application process, and penalties for non-compliance.

On February 7th, Bishan District issued its official guidelines, which they applied uniformly to all businesses, starting with the inspection of four key enterprises the next day.

Operation resumes in Bishan – Preventative measures

In response to Chongqing municipality handing down notice, Bishan District set up an operations committee to see that business implemented five key measures. 

These were internal management systems for disease control, accountability, employee checks, a response mechanism, and adequate resources for dealing with an outbreak.

In order to re-open, businesses have to sign a written agreement, where they pledge to abide by the official requirements. A failure to meet the standards, or treating the issue without due seriousness, would result in the operations center denying approval.

Bishan set up a mechanism to ensure all businesses had access to protective gear. They purchased a large inventory to help companies meet standards, and distributed free masks to all industry workers. The government also pro-actively approached all businesses in order to learn their specific needs. 

They also established an inspection regime to make sure rules are followed. Employees and outsiders are able to report violations, and the operations center can issue blue, yellow and red cards, according to the level of severity. In serious cases, they can order companies to cease operation and cut utilities.

Workers also have their own responsibilities. They must adhere to five key rules when they are off duty, which are no drinking in groups, visiting and staying in other people’s homes, meeting outside for entertainment, or allowing somebody not in their household to live with them.

Balancing priorities

While it’s a priority for business to resume operations quickly, Mr. Wen Told iChongqing that safety precautions are the overriding factor. They only issue approval to re-open when all the stringent requirements have been met. 

When we asked how the district government handles foreign enterprises, the answer was that everybody receives the same fair and equal treatment. So while they have to meet the same requirements as their Chinese counterparts, they have also enjoyed the same level of assistance.

He summarized this approach with the Chinese idiom ‘一视同仁,’ which means to look upon all with equal benevolence.

Final points

As our time ran down, and the commitments of development chief Mr. Wen’s pressed, we finished with some extra requirements that workers need to follow, and whether authorities delegate the right to allow businesses to resume operations.

Factories must have enough masks and disinfectants to last seven days. 

They need thermometers to measure body temperature, and also a temporary isolation unit for workers they suspect of contracting the virus.

There are certain time windows that allow workers to come to arrive, consume meals, rest, and return home so that they can avoid congregating in large numbers.

On top of all this, company management has to keep a written record of all checks on workers, visitors, vehicles, and safety precautions, in order to satisfy the administrative demands they pledge to adhere to.

Delegation

While the standards for approval are the same industry-wide in Bishan, officials are also keen to let businesses resume operation as soon as possible, by avoiding unnecessary layers of review.

The operations committee delegates work teams to check whether companies meet the required standards, and have the authority to issue their approval, thus making the process more timely and efficient.

At the same time, there are also inspection teams who share responsibility for seven areas within the industrial park. They conduct spot-checks without notice, so they can make sure companies are still in compliance, but also learn what assistance they might need.

As the industry continues to go online all over Chongqing, we will visit more factories across a variety of industries, so that we can bring you all the latest developments on the ground.

 

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