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China takes steps to restart economy and get people back to work

By Francis Jay

Quarantines eased and incentives announced in an attempt to limit economic impact of coronavirus

The Chinese government is leading a push to get employees working again in order to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus after a virtual shutdown in many areas, the FT reports.

Manufacturers, such as Apple iPhone producer Foxconn, have had quarantine requirements eased for them by the provincial government. Apple previously reported that both supply and demand were being effected by the virus, leading to a slump in stock. An example of this was one of the Foxconn factories in Zhengzhou, Henan, which was employing more than 200,000 workers.

Previously the quarantine stipulated that many employees in the whole of Henan province were unable to return to work but that system has been replaced by one which categorises different parts of the region by risk level, allowing healthy employees to return to work. Workers’ temperatures are tested and they are given new health declarations if they are in the clear.

Among incentives to woo returning and newly recruited workers, Foxconn has raised its bonus but faces competition. In an attempt to attract temporary labour in Shaghai, another Apple supplier, Pegatron, is offering bonuses of up to ¥10,000 (£1,093; $1,420), compared to ¥5,250 (£574, $746) from Foxconn.

Disruptions to transport are causing serious problems. While local governments have organised buses specifically for employees and even ordered buses to be escorted by police cars, capacity is an issue. One employee at a Foxconn plant said she was unable to report to work because "the arranged bus was overflowing with people".

The scale of journeys is another issue. With regular infrastructure a hazard, shuttle buses have been deployed in Shaghai and Beijing to transport workers from rural areas to urban ones.

Elsewhere, charter flights have been organised to send workers from Hanzong, in central China, to Yiwu – the key trading district. In the same province (Taizhou) the authorities have committed to reimbursing all corporate outflows on chartered buses or trains.

Officials have said that the majority of large companies in seven key provinces have resumed production. In contrast, only an estimated 30 per cent of small- and medium-sized businesses have reopened.

FURTHER READING: Global stocks fall after Apple posts coronavirus warning

FURTHER READING: US is confident coronavirus won't impact China trade deal

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