SHANGHAI, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Most Italian companies in Shanghai have resumed work as the local government rolled out targeted policies to facilitate foreign businesses' operations amid the novel coronavirus epidemic.
"Fortunately, all our employees in China are safe and sound, and 90 percent of them have returned to work," said Carlo Nizia, supervisor of the board of directors with UFI Filters (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.
Italy-based UFI Filters, a global leader in filtration technology, has established six factories and one research and development center in China. It employs over 2,200 people in China, accounting for half of its workforce across the world.
Some Italian enterprises resumed work under modified conditions. Bonfiglioli Riduttori, an Italian manufacturer of gear motors, gearboxes and inverters, made special investment in its Shanghai branch to improve living conditions for its employees and arranged separate dining time to better protect employees' health and well being.
In February, Shanghai rolled out 28 measures to cushion companies against the impact of the novel coronavirus epidemic, with foreign enterprises treated on an equal footing.
Shanghai authorities also visited and had discussions with foreign enterprises in the city from February to March, to better understand their difficulties and needs amid the epidemic, such as labor shortage, lack of epidemic prevention materials and disrupted supply chains.
Despite the support measures, some Italian companies in Shanghai, especially those related to consumption and travel, faced difficult times amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In Shanghai's Pudong District, an outlet store operated by an Italian company shut down for a month due to the outbreak. Yet the store still saw sluggish growth of consumers after resuming work for more than a month.
The cruise industry also received a severe blow from the pandemic. According to Costa Crociere, an Italian cruise line, the cruise industry is now facing a common challenge globally -- how to restore consumer confidence and gradually dispel people's safety concerns about getting infected on cruise ships.
Though facing short-term difficulties, these Italian companies were still upbeat about the Chinese market, hoping that the shopping and cruise industries will "recover first in China," so as to lead related industries around the world out of coronavirus woes.
Many Italian companies in Shanghai also expressed gratitude to China for sending medical teams and medical supplies to Italy when the country was in its most difficult days.
"If you are in Italy now, you will know how difficult it was for Wuhan and China to combat the virus over the past two months. Coronavirus is cruel, but it makes us realize the value of mutual care and friendship," said Carlo Nizia.