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Los Angeles Apparel
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Los Angeles Apparel shuts down after more than 300 coronavirus cases

The clothing manufacturer has one of the largest workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 in America

Dov Charney’s Los Angeles Apparel has shut down after 300 workers were infected with COVID-19 following a mass outbreak in its factory.

On Friday (July 10), public health officials ordered the clothing manufacturer to stay closed following the death of four employees from coronavirus-related causes in June and early July.

Currently one of the largest workplace outbreaks reported in the US, the latest closure follows a June 27 order by authorities after they found “flagrant violations of mandatory public health infection control orders”. According to the Los Angeles Times, inspectors found multiple violations of infection control and social distancing protocols, including cardboard barriers being used to divide between workers.

But the plant reopened shortly after as an essential business to make face masks, though officials claim that Charney – who was fired from his own company American Apparel back in 2014 – violated the original closure by reopening with new workers and failed to provide a full list of employees to compare test results.

“The death of four dedicated garment workers is heartbreaking and tragic,” said Barbara Ferrer, LA County department of public health director, in a statement. “Business owners and operators have a corporate, moral, and social responsibility to their employees and their families to provide a safe work environment that adheres to all of the health officer directives.”

Responding to the claims, Charney said: “We believe that at all times – since the launch of the epidemic – we’ve been doing our best in doing social distancing and following every directive we’re aware of. We’re dealing with a massive epidemic that has risen astronomically in our community, in South LA, and it’s manifested itself in our factory.”

The news comes after a surge of coronavirus cases in Leicester, UK, linked to the cramped factories supplying garments to Boohoo and its sister brands Nasty Gal and Pretty Little Thing. 

According to a report by The Sunday Times, workers at one factory making clothes for Nasty Gal were found to be earning as little as £3.50 an hour (the minimum wage in Britain for those aged 25 and over is £8.72), with no access to hand sanitiser or the ability to social distance while working.