Covestro to resume regular operations in Germany, VW restarts plants

Author: Stefan Baumgarten

2020/04/24

LONDON (ICIS)--Covestro is preparing to gradually resume “regular operations” at its plants in Germany, the chemicals major said on Friday, in line with federal and state government moves to ease the coronavirus lockdowns restrictions.

The rate of new infections in Germany has fallen as the measures taken to contain the virus showed an “initial effect”, Covestro said on Friday, citing the latest findings by the country’s Robert Koch health institute (RKI).

As of Friday, RKI reported just over 150,000 infections in Germany, and 5,321 deaths.

The state of Bavaria is the worst hit, with nearly 40,000 cases and 1,525 deaths.

Covestro CEO Markus Steilemann said that ensuring worker safety and health are the top priorities as the company is taking “small steps” to return to normal operations.

Beginning 27 April, Covestro will implement “first adjustments in individual areas” of its operations, the CEO said.

The company decided on a “comprehensive catalogue” of hygiene and personal conduct measures to ensure health and safety, including the requirement to wear face masks, he said.

At the same time, it encourages continued working from home, wherever possible.

VW RESTARTING PLANTS
Meanwhile, auto major Volkswagen (VW) has begun restarting its plants following a four-week shutdown, the company’s CEO said in remarks to state media group ZDF.

The shutdown cost VW €2bn/week.

The company applied for short-time work for about 80,000 workers in Germany.

CEO Herbert Diess said that in addition to implementing strict hygiene and personal protection measures, VW is reorganising operations so that fewer workers need to be physically present at plants.

He pointed to China’s experience.

There, companies have managed to resume operations and the economy is recovering after the pandemic struck earlier this year, he said.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the federal states not to be too hasty in relaxing the restrictions.

“Nobody wants to hear it, but we are still at the beginning of this pandemic”, she told the country’s parliament on Thursday.

A number of experts and commentators fear that an overhasty relaxation of the lock-down measures could lead to a second, even worse wave of the pandemic.

Front page image: Covestro facilities in Leverkusen, Germany
Source: Covestro

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