With over 133,000 cases of COVID-19 globally and nearly 5,000 fatalities, international government officials are encouraging bans on large gatherings while global companies including Ineos Group officially endorse "social distancing."
London-based Ineos said in a March 12 news release that employees who cannot work from home are to maintain a "1-meter rule" within offices and plants to separate themselves from co-workers and help fight the spread of the coronavirus.
All its office-based staff must work from home "unless in exceptional circumstances," and Ineos is canceling or postponing all group events.
"We take our responsibility as a global manufacturer of essential products to every-day life very seriously, with health and safety our top priority," Ineos Chairman Jim Ratcliffe said in the release. "Our responsibility and our focus is to ensure the plants that we run, which produce products essential to everyday life including the health care system, remain operational, with the safety of our employees the number one priority."
Resin distributor M. Holland has restricted all non-essential travel in response to the virus, it said in a statement posted on LinkedIn March. 12.
"M. Holland is enabling our teams to work remotely to minimize any disruptions in servicing our clients," the statement said. "At this time, there are no significant COVID-19-related disruptions to our domestic supply chain. We are working directly with any affected clients in international markets."
Sonoco Products Co., a South Carolina-based packaging company with operations in hard-hit areas of California, said it has seen "no discernible impact to production or sales," in an emailed statement to Plastics News.
"All of our facilities have business continuity and pandemic plans in place and are enacting procedures accordingly. We've set up a microsite that is a repository of information that is shared with customers, suppliers and our teammates," the company said.
The Hartsville-based company said it is implementing "enhanced hygiene protocols," given its food packaging products, is screening outside visitors, and is banning travel to any impacted areas and large group meetings, conferences, and trade shows until May 1 when it will "reevaluate the situation."
"To date, we have no teammate who has been diagnosed with the virus," the emailed statement said. "We will follow quarantine protocols, as needed, as established by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and [the World Health Organization] in the event we have a diagnosis."
Plastics News' sister publication Automotive News postponed its annual World Congress, originally scheduled for March 24-25 in Detroit.
Automotive News is looking to reschedule the event sometime in summer of 2020, it said in a notice to registrants March 12.
"The decision was made following consultations with sponsors, speakers, pre-registered visitors, and considering the significant impact of travel at this time," the notice said. "We are confident we can find new solutions, but our first consideration under these difficult circumstances must be for the health and well-being of all involved in the event while the government seeks to contain the spread of the disease."