"We mostly had to close because public transport was suspended, as 75% of our workers used the bus to come to work...The second reason was the absence of protective equipment and the fact that an outbreak in our factory would have meant an excessive peril for the Upper Savinja Valey. There are 1,500 of us here while the valley has 16,000 inhabitants," BSH director Boštjan Gorjup explained for the business daily Finance.
After closing shop on 15 March, BSH, which is a part of the international concern BSH Home Appliances Group, told around 150 workers to return to work on Monday. While planning to start working at 50% capacity next week, Gorjup, who is also the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), explained this still depended on suppliers.
"Those in China have been working for some time already. I expect that those in Italy will get a green light after an inspection where they need to prove they meet security demands, much like was the case in China. We also issued a document stating that their parts are crucial for us," Gorjup said.
BSH is now taking the temperature of workers entering the factory, while providing each one with two surgical masks, protective gloves and glasses. Work has been adjusted to provide a two metre distance between workers or through plastic barriers. They are coming to work by car now, with special parking space provided.
Gorjup said that demand for household appliances had not fallen with the crisis, with online purchases replacing conventional shopping.
The other major household appliance maker in Slovenia, Gorenje, which has a 3,400-strong workforce, meanwhile remains closed. On 20 March, the management of the company, owned by China's Hisense, decided to close all facility in Europe from 23 March to 5 April.
The company, which initially introduced extensive protective measures, said then it would close as a precautionary measure to contribute to efforts to contain the virus even though it had sufficient amounts of protective equipment and production material.
The management and the trade union agreed to resume production on 6 April unless this is prevented by additional measures in other countries that would hamper operations in the industry.
Also remaining closed is Renault's Novo Mesto-based assembly plant Revoz, which suspended production on 17 March. Revoz, which emloyss around 3,400 people, said future steps would remain on "both the situation in the country and the decisions of the Renault Group".