Colombian seamstress Nazly Penagos got an unusual offer from her boss: come live inside the Bogota factory to reduce the chance of getting sick with the novel coronavirus.
The owner of the Hechizoo factory, which normally employs 70 to produce high-end upholstery, has installed bathrooms, a kitchen and beds to house eight of the 17 employees who have returned to work, as Colombia gradually reopens its economy after two months of quarantine.
“It’s been good, because I don’t go out onto the street,” said Penagos, who only goes home on weekends. “I have a small daughter and I wouldn’t like to be coming and going and – you never know – take the infection home.”
While installing living quarters is a rare measure, thousands of Colombian factories and businesses are restarting operations. They are grappling with government delays in granting permission to reopen and worries about how to sell products to still-quarantined consumers in Latin America’s fourth-largest economy.
The factory’s managers are hopeful the addition of living quarters will keep the business afloat and avoid employee infections. The company is getting about 15% of its regular orders.
“We decided to stay here permanently until we know what will happen,” said creative director Jorge Lizarazo, who is also living at the factory and complained of unclear government instructions. “The uncertainty worries me…uncertainty is fatal for any business.”