In a joint position paper, European HVAC&R industry organizations Eurovent and REHVA have called upon authorities in Europe and the world to recognize manufacturing, installation and maintenance/repair of HVAC&R equipment as essential business activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide them with “reasonable exemptions” from shutdown orders and travel restrictions.
Focusing on support for the healthcare, food cold chains, data centers and building sectors, the groups ask that HVACR manufacturers “be allowed to ensure a minimum of production and guarantee the availability of spares and replacements.”
Eurovent and REHVA also called for better coordination among EU member states to ensure continuity of supply chains in critical infrastructure.
In the position paper, published on April 8, the groups state that “HVAC&R equipment supports critical infrastructure in the healthcare, food cold chain, data center and building sectors notably,” adding that a “prolonged shutdown of HVAC&R manufacturing activities might have severe consequences during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Eurovent and REHVA worry that the shutdowns might lead to “shortages of supplies and services that ensure the integrity of HVACR installations in critical infrastructure” both in the European market, and in regions dependent on supplies from European manufacturers.
Many countries around the world have shut down non-essential businesses until further notice. These countries include Italy, a coronavirus hotspot, where prominent natural refrigerant manufacturers like Carel, Arneg, Dorin, Epta and Enex have been forced to shut down manufacturing for two weeks through April 3, though some are now beginning to reopen.
The shutdowns have reduced the European HVAC&R production capacity by 50%, with Italian companies normally contributing around 20% of all finished products to the market, and with more reductions expected in the coming weeks, according to the position paper.
Eurovent is Europe’s Industry Association for Indoor Climate, Process Cooling, and Food Cold Chain Technologies. Its members represent more than 1,000 companies, mostly small and medium-sized manufacturers. REHVA is the Federation of European HVAC Associations.