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How coronavirus fears have hit the Italian fashion market

As designers stay away from Milan Fashion Week and production workshops in China shut down, the coronavirus outbreak is expected to cost the Italian fashion industry at least €100 million over three months.

How coronavirus fears have hit the Italian fashion market
Milan Fashion Week events have had "significantly reduced" attendance this year, organisers said. Photo: AFP

Milan Fashion Week kicked off on Tuesday overshadowed by the coronavirus outbreak, with thousands of Chinese designers, buyers and journalists ditching the event.

China accounts for over a third of global luxury consumption and the crisis has already cost Italy's fashion sector millions of euros.

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The closure of production workshops of Chinese brands in China has also made it impossible to meet the production deadlines for the shows.

But the show must go on, and for five days, Italy's biggest fashion names such as Armani, Fendi, Prada, Versace and Gucci will showcase their Autumn-Winter 2020 Women's collections.

Models on the catwalk on Tuesday for the “China, We are With You” event at Milan Fashion Week 2020. Photo: AFP

The event began Tuesday evening with a “China, We are With You” fashion show from Chinese designer, Han Wen, who is based in New York.

However, the three Chinese designers with fashion shows scheduled – Angel Chen, Ricostru and Hui – have pulled out.

Authorities are preparing for all eventualities in Italy, where three cases of the new coronavirus have been detected so far.

Italy was the first European country to ban all flights to and from China last month after declaring a state of emergency over the outbreak

The virus, which has already killed nearly 1,900 people around the world, mostly in China, also cast a pall over London's Fashion Week.

That show, which began on Friday and lasted five days, was also marked by “significantly reduced” attendance, organisers said.

The National Chamber for Italian Fashion said the economic impact of the epidemic was “currently not calculable.”

Using the 2003-2004 SARS outbreak as a guide, it said an “optimistic” estimate would be for Italian exports to decline by a minimum of 100 million euros ($108 million) in the first quarter of 2020 and 230 million “in the event of a prolonged crisis” for the first half of the year.

New York-based Chinese designer Han Wen at Milan Fashion Week 2020. Photo: AFP

The Chinese absence will be noticeable not just around the catwalks but behind the scenes, in showrooms where international buyers come to order pieces that will end up a few months later in luxury boutiques around the world.

To make up for the gap, the chamber has launched an assortment of digital means to connect buyers in China by giving them access to the catwalks in streaming but also behind the scenes.

The COVID-19 outbreak – as the World Health Organization has formally named it – has also hit the sector's supply chain, with textile manufacturing plants shutting down in China, causing significant delays in the delivery of collections.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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