With more than 650 confirmed cases and 17 fatalities in Northern Italy, Italy has seen a sharp spike in cases of coronavirus (COVID 19) forcing the government to impose a lockdown and implement severe precautionary measures on citizens, public spaces, schools and businesses.
The outbreak of the coronavirus infection in Italy has sparked real concern over its repercussions on jobs in the EFFAT sectors, especially in view of an imminent European-wide response to the crisis that might soon see factories close, supply chains break and European stock markets further suffer.
With the coronavirus emergency there is a risk of paralysis in the work of 500 farms in the eleven municipalities of the red zone between Lombardy and Veneto which adds to the difficulties on domestic and foreign markets. The restrictive measures adopted in areas with strong agricultural activity, from farms to vineyards, farmhouses to cellars extend to the entire area of the Po Valley where more than one-third of agri-food products made in Italy originate.
The disruption represents a significant threat to the performance of the food sector in the regions of northern Italy hit by the disease, which together account for 32% of national GDP, according to Federalimentare, the Italian Trade Association for the food and drink sector.
On top of the heavy restrictions on the movement of workers, produce and livestock in the quarantined zones, Italian agro-food exports are now becoming subject to unfair competition in the form of unreasonable requests for additional certification, further stifling this vital industry.
The Ministry of Agricultural and Food Policies (MIPAAF) has created a task force to follow the evolution of coronavirus in Italy and established a first calendar of meetings with sector organizations, distribution, social partners and regional authorities for the coming days and weeks.
The European Tourism Manifesto for Growth and Jobs Alliance, the voice of the European travel and tourism sector, has issued a statement on the COVID-19 outbreak’s impact on EU-China tourism cooperation, offering solidarity and support to China and the Chinese people during an exceptionally challenging time. An increasing number of cases of coronavirus infections detected in tourism facilities, e.g. on cruise ships, and in hotels and resorts, with consequent quarantines of the whole place, show that workers in transport and tourism are particularly endangered as they are in close contact with travellers/passengers. Trade unions call upon public authorities and transport and tourism companies to inform workers adequately about risks and protection measures, and to ensure that the health of transport and tourism staff is efficiently protected.
Ultimately, EFFAT expresses concern for the negative impact this emergency is having on tourism in Italy and potentially in other European countries in the future. In certain regions of Italy around 40% of reservations are expected to be cancelled according to the Italian hoteliers’ association Federalberghi.
EFFAT joins the Italian trade unions’ call for the implementation of policies to safeguard employment and workers’ wages in all sectors during this difficult period and ask the Commission to support all countries potentially affected with concrete measures including a more flexible approach to fiscal targets.
Finally, EFFAT calls on employers in the countries affected to guarantee fully covered sick pay in case employees need to stay at home as a result of mandatory health measures.