Plastic firm switches production to help fight pandemic

Hayden Kelliher checks on one of the many protective screens he has been making at Progressive...
Hayden Kelliher checks on one of the many protective screens he has been making at Progressive Plastics. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
A Dunedin company is bracing for a boom in demand for protective plastic screens as the Government considers whether to ease Covid-19 restrictions.

Progressive Plastics has been creating plastic shields, which have been installed at petrol station, supermarket and pharmacy counters.

While working with acrylic plastics is not new to its team, creating plastic shields has been.

However, with the potential for more businesses to start operating if Level 4 restrictions were lifted, it may become its new normal.

Administration manager Jackie McBride said the company had supplied medical centres and pharmacies across Otago with the shields, and inquiries were flooding in from businesses preparing to reopen under Level 3 restrictions.

It meant the business, which usually focused on making plastic trays for meat, fish and produce companies, had another purpose to fulfill within the community.

The inquiries had come from a range of companies who provided face-to-face services, including dentists.

The company had also started making intubation boxes since lockdown began, to help protect health care workers against the virus.

Its work had usually been under two manufacturing divisions, Mrs McBride said.

While the thermoforming division, which had begun making the screens, remained busy, the fabrication division, which predominantly made pipe fittings for plumbers, had "almost" come to a complete halt.

Only one of the three fabricators had been needed for work during the lockdown.

The other two people and a few members of the administration team would remain off work until jobs picked up.

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