OPA demands print to be defined as ‘essential services’ in covid-19 crisis
Indian government already declared lockdown for 21 days
Ludhiana: During this time of crisis due to the spread of COVID-19, the Indian government already declared lockdown for 21 days, many state government imposed curfew to save the country from this epidemic. At the same time the government have taken the decision to define the essential services that must be maintained during the lockdown/curfew to fight the virus and ensure society continues to function. Offset Printers’ Association (OPA) calls on authorities at national and state level to recognise printing as part of the essential services. If the printing industry is not permitted to function as usual and denied financial assistance, access to raw materials or other support, authorities risk that indispensable products are not produced.
• Printers producing printed food packaging are more crucial than ever as supermarkets come under increased pressure to make sure shelves in shops are kept full for consumers. The same applies to hygiene products. Pharmacies must be guaranteed an uninterrupted supply of medicine, the packaging of which is also printed by our industry. Avoiding disruptions to key value chains must be prioritised. And the communication of public health information should not face any restrictions.
• Labels, posters and information-folders are very important communication tools, to give clear and barrier-free information to citizens and to explain important measures and to help to avoid direct contact at critical places and structures.
• Similarly, concerned citizens rely on daily news to keep themselves informed about the virus. As is well evident many individuals, especially the elderly and village community do not have access to the internet in their households, rendering them unable to access news online. This is to a large extent older people, one of the most important cohorts of people to remain informed in this crisis, given that they are in a high-risk category. Moreover in this age of WhatsApp University, according to a Eurobarometer survey on fake news and online disinformation, traditional print media, TV, and radio continue to be the most trustworthy sources of news. Fake news about COVID-19 is dangerous, threatening real people’s lives. At a time of widespread uncertainty and concern, the printing of newspapers/ literature must continue.
• Printed books ae a perfect entertainment tool in time of containment. It is in particular a good way for all, and in particular younger people, to spend time away from on-line tools. Printed books can still be supplied in supermarkets and ordered online. A continuous production of printed books should be maintained.
For the supply of packaging for critical products, of reliable information through the printed press and of printed books OPA and its members underline that it is critical that government include the printing sector and related supplying sectors as essential industry during COVID-19 crisis.