TURIN – The Italian automotive industry expects to find a way to operate amid havoc caused by new measures taken by the government to contain Europe's worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 6,300 confirmed cases and 233 deaths.
The Italian government on Sunday approved sweeping restrictions on travel and public activities in the Lombardy region that includes Milan, as well as parts of Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna.
However, executives at Maserati, Ferrari and three vehicle component suppliers in the government's expanded “orange zone” told Automotive News Europe they would be open for business on Monday. All five were operating on Monday largely because businesses in the restricted area have been given some leeway to operate, according to a document from the Italian industry Confindustria lobby group seen by ANE.
That document says in cases of "proven working needs" employees are allowed to go to work. This means the restriction should “not lead to the blocking of production activities, work activities, and even less the blocking of transport and movement of goods from and for the perimeter areas,” the document said.
Maserati said that starting Monday only essential staff will report to work at its facilities in the Modena area. All others will work from home. Maserati employees about 1,350 at three locations in the Modena area.
Ferrari said in a release on Monday that it will continue to operate as long as it keeps getting the components it requires from suppliers.
A Fiat Chrysler Automobiles spokesman told ANE on Monday it was business as usual at all of the automaker's Italian facilities, adding that there had been no problems receiving parts from suppliers. The option to work from home, which previously was limited to specific cases, has been extended to employees at all FCA facilities as long as their absence is compatible with the automaker's production needs.
With the exception of Maserati’s factory in Modena, all other FCA plants in Italy are outside the area affected by the new restrictions, which started on Sunday and will run until April 3.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte presented the new rules following hours of uncontrolled leaks and signs of public panic on Saturday.
Italian government bond yields jumped and stocks tumbled Monday. Italy’s benchmark FTSEMIB Index dropped as much as 5.6 percent, with most stocks failing to open at 9 a.m.
Monday as their pre-market movements triggered a trading halt designed to avoid drastic price swings. The benchmark 10-year bond yield rose 25 basis points to 1.33 and the two-year yield soared by 45 basis points to 0.49 percent.
The finance ministry said Monday that it’s necessary to take a temporary hit from the shutdown in the productive north -- home of Italy’s biggest banks and companies including supercarmaker Ferrari -- to prevent a wider economic crisis.
Italy’s new rules follow a similar quarantine of some 60 million people in China that’s been credited with slowing the epidemic’s spread to the rest of the country and the world. It remains to be seen whether Italian society will accept the quarantine, and what the measures’ long-term impact will be, said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Measures such as quarantines can help tamp down the peak of an outbreak and relieve pressure on health care, said Thomas Frieden, a former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just as important is getting society to buy in to such actions, he said.
“It’s crucial -- for both ethical and practical reasons -- that communities are engaged and supported,” he said in an email. “Otherwise communities will have higher costs and the effectiveness will be lower.”
Bloomberg contributed to this report