The world’s largest iPhone factory, run by Foxconn Technology Group in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, has imposed tough Covid-19 control policies, such as closing its dine-in canteen, to keep production running normally amid a fresh outbreak that has put part of the city under lockdown.
Foxconn’s Zhengzhou campus, which has about 300,000 workers, has banned all eating in and asked workers to take their meals back to their dormitories starting from 3pm on Wednesday, according to a notice on the factory’s official WeChat account.
The company will provide three meals to the workers for free, and some departments, such as the integrated Digital Product Business Group – the division directly responsible for Apple iPhone assembly – have also been offered transport subsidies to get back to dorms. These workers have also been offered an additional 50 yuan per day bonus for reporting to work on time amid the new restrictions.
Starting this week, Foxconn’s Zhengzhou workers are only permitted to commute along certain routes within the campus, with many entrances closed in a de facto lockdown. The company has also urged workers living outside the campus to move into on-site dormitories, according to a separate notice on Monday.
“Production in the Zhengzhou campus remains normal, without a notable impact [from the Covid-19] situation,” a Foxconn spokesman said on Thursday.
The extra measures at Foxconn reflect China’s struggle to keep a balance between the conflicting targets of continued economic development and zero tolerance of coronavirus. China’s strict Covid-19 measures, including lockdowns of Shanghai and Shenzhen earlier this year, have undermined investor confidence in China as a stable manufacturing base and accelerated relocation of facilities to other markets.
The new measures come as Foxconn’s factory ramps up production of the latest iPhone 14 models. Zhengzhou reported seven new confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Thursday and the city of 10 million residents has sealed some areas and ordered the closures of non-essential businesses while allowing those on the government’s whitelist to continue operations.
“My food was warm when I received it, but was cold by the time I arrived at my dorm. What were they thinking when they put forward this policy?” one user wrote on Xiaohongshu, China’s answer to Instagram, also posting photos of the long queues to get food. SCMP