Brussels, 8 April 2020. Eurovent and REHVA call on all relevant authorities in the EU and globally to recognise the manufacturing, distribution, installation, maintenance and repair of HVACR equipment as essential business activities and therefore exempt them from COVID-19 shutdown orders and travel restrictions. HVACR equipment supports critical infrastructure in the healthcare, food cold chain, data centre and building sectors notably. Prolonged shutdown of HVACR manufacturing activities might have severe consequences during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Heating, ventilation, air conditioning, cooling and refrigeration are crucial in many applications in all sectors of the economy. For example, HVACR equipment enables the production, transportation and storage of pharmaceuticals and food, replenishes and conditions the air in hospitals and grocery stores, and ensures the operation of data centres and telecommunication infrastructure.
Several countries around the world have shut down so called non-essential businesses until further notice, including Italy. These shutdowns include the manufacturing of HVACR equipment and components.
The European HVACR market currently lost at least 50% of its production capacity with more expected to come to a halt in the next few weeks. Data from Eurovent Market Intelligence show that Italian factories alone provide about 20% of all finished products to the European HVACR market and over 40% in refrigeration and IT cooling.
These shutdowns might lead to shortages of supplies and services that ensure the integrity of HVACR installations in critical infrastructure during and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Europe and regions dependent on supplies from European manufacturers.
Call for action
Eurovent and REHVA strongly advise regional, national and local authorities worldwide to include businesses active in the manufacturing, distribution, installation, maintenance and repair of HVACR equipment as essential businesses with reasonable exemptions from shutdowns and travel restrictions. HVACR manufacturers must be allowed to ensure a minimum of production and guarantee the availability of spares and replacements.
Eurovent and REHVA also call on the EU and all its Member States to better coordinate to ensure the continuity of supply chains in critical infrastructure. While the industry supports all activities and restrictions necessary to fight the pandemic, it also warns of severe consequences of uncoordinated shutdowns.