In The Wall Street Journal Tom Fairless writes:
Throughout the six-week national lockdown that now is gradually being lifted, the family-owned company kept its domestic factories running at 80% of normal capacity, said Chief Executive Officer Stefan Brandl.
Social distancing, ubiquitous face masks, in-house Covid-19 tests and contact-tracing when employees fell ill helped the company keep its plants open. Just 15 of its 6,700 employees in Germany have contracted the virus, the company said.
Large parts of Europe have been ravaged by the pandemic, but Germany has fared better. While it has seen roughly the same number of diagnosed infections as similar-size neighbors—Italy, Spain, France, the U.K.—it has registered only about one-quarter as many deaths.
German businesses also cite their presence in China, Germany’s largest trade partner, as an important factor in helping them prepare for the pandemic.
“Nearly everybody somehow is located in China,” said Thilo Brodtmann, executive director of the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, or VDMA, which represents more than 3,000 companies.
Germany’s automobile factories closed in March because demand dried up. When Volkswagen AG began reopening its German plants in late April, it deployed some measures in practice in its Chinese plants, adapting some and adding new ones.
The result was a list of 100 steps affecting many aspects of workers’ routines, including where to change into work clothes, where and how to eat lunch and how to check for Covid-19 symptoms
Bojan Pancevski contributed to this article.
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