A Statewide Breakdown on the Status of Apparel Manufacturing

April 29, 2021

As mentioned in our previous post, India is undergoing a severe second wave of COVID infections that has caught the nation off guard and appears more transmissible and deadly than any previous wave to date. As many states grapple with limited vaccines, medical supplies, facilities and personnel to combat this new triple mutant strain, the entire state of Karnataka & its capital Bangalore have gone into a complete lockdown starting Apr 27th until May 12th 2021. Although the Government Order grants exclusions to the manufacturing and construction industries, all garment factories have been ordered closed given the close proximity required by workers on the production floor.

This new government order is likely to deliver a devastating impact to an industry that is yet to recover from the first wave of COVID infections and lockdowns. Making matters worse, most of the workforce that the garment industry employs are low-wage earners, on average making $150 per month. Even temporarily foregoing these wages due to a lockdown will force most of these laborers to have to leave Bangalore (home to the vast majority of garment factories in the state) and journey back to their rural villages where typically they have family and the cost of living is more affordable. This could cause impacts to production capacity far beyond the immediate timeline of the lockdown.

Additionally, given the state of Karnataka contributes to nearly 20% of the nation’s garment exports and raw materials, the lockdown is also likely to further increase the price of cotton, which has shot up over 70% since the onset of the pandemic in April, 2020.

The Karnataka Employers Association (KEA) has appealed to the state government to make an exception and grant permits to allow garment factories to operate at 50% capacity. However, given the speed at which transmission and mortality appears to be increasing, it is highly unlikely the government will grant this request.

The following is a breakdown of COVID and lockdown status by state, gathered from SILQ teams stationed in major apparel production hubs.

Maharashtra (Mumbai)

New Delhi (NCR Region) 

West Bengal (Kolkata)

Karnataka (Bangalore)

Tamil Nadu (Chennai & Tirupur)