The quarantine measures placed on Italy are not, as yet at least, preventing trade between the country and customers elsewhere in Europe. But there are signs that print companies in the region are suffering as customers become wary about delivery.
Factories remain open. The government has closed down social life, making it difficult if not impossible for Italians to enjoy a meal, a drink or even a coffee. People travelling to Italy, say lorry drivers or managers living across the boarder, are allowed to work but warned to do their job and to not socialise. Some drivers are reluctant to enter the country.
Fedrigoni, the leading paper maker in the north of the country, is continuing to supply stocks and is in full production. In a letter to customers, the company states: “Our mills are all open and productive on three shifts. Our teams in the office are at work, many in smart working mode as recommended, and our level of service is regular.”
Where there have been delays it has been because of delays imposed by border controls in other countries. As of the middle of last week, none of Fedrigoni’s staff in Italy or Asia has tested positive. It has introduced temperature testing for staff in its mills and offices.
The same cannot be said for Durst where one employee has contracted Covid-19 and another has gone into self isolation. Durst is located at Brixen in the Italian Tyrol, just across the border in Austria.
None of the other major Italian manufacturers has notified any instances of the virus, at least at the end of last week. Pixartprinting near Venice, states on its website: “Our printing service is fully operational and delivery times are guaranteed.”
However, this is not the case at other plants in the country, where workers have taken action because of a perceived lack of care by employers. This is reported to have provoked strike action at Elcograf in order to put monitoring measures in place. There is also widespread suspicion and rumours about colleagues suspected of having caught the virus, despite statements that the authorities have not notified the companies of any ongoing cases.
Companies are being supplied with masks and gloves for staff in addition to requirements to keep a minimum distance and to step up cleaning routines while urging staff to work remotely where possible.
However, while printers are able to work, orders from customers are slowing down, particularly from retail customers both in Italy and beyond.
Increasing restrictions are expected in other European countries, Germany included, in the next days. To date Picon members have not reported problems. The trade association for the industry’s suppliers has been asked by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to record any issues as they arise.
“The BEIS is looking for the effect on the supply chain and we have sent a collection of emails to the Engineering Employers’ Assocition who are curating this information for government,” says Picon managing director Bettine Pellant.
“The responses have spread from ‘we don’t envisage any problems’ to ‘we had some problems with supply from China at first, but that has settled down’.”
Nevertheless the threat of the virus, increasing government restrictions continues to hit industry events in this country. The Efia flexo awards has been cancelled
Italian printers are permitted to operate during the lock down, but there have been major difficulties as workers feel unprotected by their employers. Paper and other manufacturing and distribution also continues.