After thousands of workers departed and production slowed significantly, the company that assembles Apple’s iPhones stated it would relax COVID-19 regulations at its largest facility in China.
Foxconn Technology announced on one of its official WeChat accounts that it would no longer enforce the so-called “closed loop” system at its facility in Zhengzhou, central China, which had previously kept employees quarantined in their offices and dorms to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections.
While there have been indicators of an increase in COVID-19 infections, China began relaxing restrictions on the virus roughly a week before the announcement on Wednesday.
Protests around the country last month led to the loosening of many “zero-COVID” restrictions. It also means that passengers on public transportation are no longer required to submit to periodic COVID-19 exams. In the event of a positive diagnosis, those with minimal or no symptoms may choose to self-isolate at home rather than report to a central quarantine facility.
Officially, President Xi Jinping’s government in China is still dedicated to halting the spread of the virus. New government actions, however, indicate that authorities will tolerate a greater number of diseases without imposing quarantines or closing down transportation and commerce.
Complaining about unsafe working conditions, including food shortages owing to closed cafeterias and a virus outbreak, thousands of employees at the massive Zhengzhou factory walked out at the end of October.
Companies like Foxconn tend to be particularly active in the fourth quarter because that is when they increase production in preparation for the holiday rush. It has been reported that Apple’s iPhone 14 shipments will be delayed owing to production issues.
In the wake of the large walkout in late October, Foxconn, headquartered in New Taipei City, Taiwan, has been working to reassemble its staff. After worker protests over pay escalated, the company ultimately issued an apology. Workers claimed that Foxconn had altered the terms of wages offered to entice them to work at the factory.
The corporation announced that it will no longer provide free food to employees, citing the reopening of factory cafeterias as the reason. Workers who are required to remain in quarantine due to a positive viral test will still receive free meals, but the cost will be reduced from their pay as usual.