[updated] U.S. Manufacturers Push to Stay Open Amid COVID-19 Uncertainty


In an effort to “flatten the curve” of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, bans and edicts are being issued by governments around the United States to limit social contact—often to varying, and conflicting, degrees of severity.

As bars, restaurants, retailers and other service establishments shutter indefinitely, and strict limits are imposed on the number of people who can be in an establishment at once, manufacturers in the health, beauty and personal care space are seeking exemptions to the measures—and unilateral legislation that makes it clear exactly who is and is not subject to the bans.

Flexible Packaging: Delivering the Goods, Safely

The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) issued letters to government officials including the White House, Capitol Hill and the nation’s governors, beseeching them to consider packaging as “essential” business operations, excluded from mass population limitations.

The organization noted the uses of packaging to hermetically seal food and beverages; maintain the sterility of personal care products; and to ensure medical devices maintain efficacy and sterility at time of use and are safely disposed of. It noted that, as evidenced by the emptying of shelves since the commencement of social distancing, manufacturing increases will be necessary to meet demand, particularly in regards to medical devices.

“It is of fundamental importance that the industry’s manufacturing facilities stay open and functioning in order to supply the necessary packaging consumer product companies and retailers need to supply goods the public needs through this health crisis,” it said in a press release.

Related: Coronavirus Beauty Intelligencer

The organization asked lawmakers at the state and local level to establish consistent and uniform bans on social gatherings, so that employees are not confused as to whether or not they should report to work.

Additionally, the FPA asked that consumer and pet food, health and beauty, pharmaceutical, and medical device packaging be considered essential manufacturing and a critical infrastructure industry, as stated in the recently released “President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.”

“Rigorous safety precautions are already in place at our manufacturing facilities to protect not only the workers but the consumers who will ultimately use and digest the products their packaging protects,” said the organization. “Let the industry continue to support these critical goods and service sectors, which will also assist in responding to COVID-19 across the country.”

Fragrance Creators Association: An Es-scent-ial Component of Cleaning Products

The Fragrance Creators Association (FCA) sent a letter to federal officially, including members of the Congressional Fragrance Caucus—underscoring the importance of fragrance in personal care products aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.

In cleaning and sanitizing products, fragrance and fragrance technologies can both encourage use by imparting a pleasant smell, and mask odors that could discourage use.

Stating that closing or restricting manufacturing facilities would negatively impact public health efforts, the organization asked federal and state governments to establish a clear, uniform framework that exempts businesses in the fragrance supply chain from the mandated closures and bans sweeping across the country.

Related: Fragrance Creators Launch Coronavirus Preparedness Plan

“The association is focused on driving awareness that fragrance is a critical component of cleaning and sanitizing formulations,” said FCA president and CEO Farah Ahmed. “We stand together with federal, state and local governments in the desire to meet this challenge, and are committed to ensuring that Americans continue to have access to essential health products that protect against the spread of COVID-19.”

“The fragrance industry has come together in an unprecedented way to meet the fragrance supply needs of the cleaning and sanitizing industry,” added Robert Weinstein, president & CEO, Robertet USA and chairman of the FCA board of directors. “In the face of this public health crisis, the fragrance industry stands united in our commitment to decisive action and ongoing collaboration.”

American Cleaning Institute: Cleaning Products are Crucial to Mitigating the Spread

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) has joined the associations asking officials at all levels of government to “coordinate a unified, clear and public framework that clearly explains that food (for human and animal consumption), beverage and consumer packaged goods manufacturers are exempted from the gathering and curfew bans that are starting to take effect,” in a letter directed to President Trump and other leaders.

The letter asks that the manufacturing and transportation of ingredients, packaging, warehouse distribution center and other aspects of the supply chain be considered critical.

In a separate letter, ACI and the Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) asked federal and state leaders to “ensure that all aspects of the cleaning product supply chain are able to maintain operations throughout this challenging time to ensure the availability of resources used to maintain sanitary conditions and mitigate the spread of the virus.” It noted that the manufacturing of cleaning products cannot be done remotely, and requires the day to day presence of personnel.

In a letter to the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission, ACI encourage officials to continue pursuing those who price gouge and seek to exploit consumers during the pandemic.

“ACI members are increasing production and operating around the clock to produce these preventative products to protect individuals from the spread of COVID-19 and to meet the dramatic expansion in demand,” ACI president & CEO Melissa Hockstad wrote.

“To be clear ACI does not support ‘price controls’ as they often do not take into account the changing cost of raw materials used to make the products. In addition, we also ask that you coordinate and collaborate with federal, state and industry partners to take all possible actions to address those sellers that engage in this illegal activity.”

Italy: Closing Amid Crises

Conversely, in the European country hit hardest by the virus, manufacturers are closing up shop.

ICMA Srl has announced it will close March 20-27, 2020, citing the growing number of cases in the region (The company is based in Mandello del Lario, a town in the especially hard-hit region of Lombardy).

“Given the increase in the number of infections and the difficulties Lombard health facilities are facing (including those in the province of Lecco), in this emergency, we consider that applying the government’s recommendation to stay home is the best choice, especially to protect our employees, thanks to whom ICMA carries out its activities,” said the company’s leadership.

It noted that customers will be contacted by sales representatives in regards to delivery dates.

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