MILAN — Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte has urged citizens to be cautious as they “learn to live with the coronavirus” and the lockdown will start to be lifted beginning on May 4, and Prada Group has taken this guidance one step further.
The Italian luxury company is the first in the country to introduce a safety protocol that involves the double screening of employees, in a collaboration with Careggi hospital in Florence.
This procedure will be applied at Prada’s Tuscan sites that are currently operational, and will later be extended to all premises in the other Italian regions.
A team of specialist nurses in dedicated rooms have begun to carry out serological testing on all employees since April 28, and those testing positive will also receive a viral test, again conducted on the premises. The company’s entire workforce will receive serological testing on a monthly basis, with no end date currently set for the screening program.
The cost of this demanding diagnostic operation will be borne in full by Prada and in this initial phase there will be an estimated 1,000 tests per week. This will clearly rise significantly once production is back to full capacity. If any employees test positive, the company will also extend the double screening process to their family members.
The possibility of employees requesting more frequent viral tests on a voluntary basis is currently being investigated.
Moreover, commercial agreements have been signed with Menarini Diagnostics to supply the testing kits for the serological test, and with a world-leading company in the molecular diagnostics sector to supply reagent testing kits to hospitals. With the aim of not depleting the public health system’s stocks, these materials will be bought directly from the above-mentioned suppliers.
“In this emergency situation we have not only been considering when to reopen our manufacturing facilities, but above all how to reopen them in total security, in order to safeguard our employees’ health and protect them from the virus,” said chief executive officer Patrizio Bertelli.
“We therefore immediately sought advice from leading health-care facilities and from specialist pharmaceutical companies to identify the top-rated medical technology currently available to safeguard the health of our employees with these virus-screening procedures and to contain the virus. The introduction of these measures means we can now confidently restart production in Tuscany, and look forward to extending the above protocols to our plants and offices in other regions, when they reopen.”
Prada partially reopened its industrial sites in Tuscany on April 20, recalling around 300 employees to work in the leather goods, apparel and footwear departments at its Arezzo premises.
This reopening, which was communicated to the local authorities in advance, involves the prototyping and sample-making departments.
The factories in Umbria, Marche and Veneto regions partially reopened next, followed lastly by the collection and sample-making workshops in the Milan headquarters.
Prada has implemented a full range of measures to protect against infection from the COVID-19 to safeguard the health of employees.
As set out in the internal safety protocol signed by the company, employee health and safety representatives, the medical coordinator and the Health and Safety service, the measures involve reduced hours, or hours split up over multiple shifts, to ensure staggered access to the sites and the correct distancing of approximately six feet between workstations.
Every day, on arrival, employees have their temperature taken and are provided with personal protective equipment (gloves and masks) to wear for the full duration of their shift. Bottles of sanitizing gel are placed near all workstations, and the rooms are sanitized twice daily. As a precautionary measure, the canteen will not operate for the first few weeks after reopening.
The company owns 22 production sites, of which 19 are in Italy, and counts almost 14,000 employees.
As reported, last month Prada extended its commitment in the fight against the coronavirus spread in Italy.
The company converted the production of its Montone, Italy-based factory to supply 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks to health-care personnel, upon a request received by the Tuscany region.
The initiative followed the donation of six intensive care units made on March 16 by Prada co-ceo’s Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada, along with chairman Carlo Mazzi.
Earlier this week, Prada strengthened its commitment to scientific research and its involvement in exploring the role of science in contemporary society. On Monday, the company revealed it is financially supporting the “Proteggimi [protect me]” project of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, which will investigate the disparity in the impact of COVID-19 on men and women, researching why it predominantly affects men and the role played by male sex hormones in this imbalance. The amount of the donation was not disclosed.