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COVID-19 and the PPE supply chain

18 March 2020

THE BSIF provides an insight into the effects COVID-19 is having on the PPE supply chain.

With much of the world production being in China, we are all aware that the supply of PPE has suffered a significant interruption, causing shortages in the UK market. You may not be aware that at the end of last week France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland placed significant restrictions and bans on the export of PPE that had dual use in medical applications covering products which can be used for protection from the COVID – 19 virus. (This includes RPE, coveralls eye protection and gloves). With integrated supply chains this exacerbated an already difficult situation for members trying to satisfy the needs of UK industry and keep them safe.

The German authorities have relaxed their ban to the extent that they now are willing to look at exceptions where exports are necessary for subsidiaries of German businesses or to protect life in other member states (especially in the healthcare sector). This should help the UK industrial market.

BSIF, through ESF has written to and lobbied the EU Commission condemning the closing of borders and further threatening and already difficult supply situation. The letter to the Commission can be downloaded from via this link.

Letter to EU Commission

We have also been in continuous contact with the UK Government and the HSE making it clear that the lack of PPE will threaten the functioning of the key utilities and infrastructure of the UK, and that the need for PPE is not just in healthcare.

The EU Commission has stated that it will have a joined up approach to resolving the supply situation and is currently seeking to establish supply for member states to ensure that PPE is available where it is needed. This initiative is however focussed on “healthcare” not necessarily industrial applications. We are continuing to keep the authorities informed on the needs of industry.

We are now beginning to hear that some previously closed factories in China are getting back to work. With little detail at this stage it is not clear how quickly the supply situation will be resolved. 

BSIF will continue to work on the situation as I know you will, trying to keep people safe and healthy while they are at work.