Strabane headquartered sportswear company O'Neills, which last week temporarily laid off 900 people, has confirmed it will move to manufacturing scrubs for the Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland.
The Co Tyrone company has a confirmed order for 5,000 scrubs from the trusts but it is also in discussions for a further order that could see it produce 50,000 scrubs for front-line NHS staff in Northern Ireland.
O'Neills has confirmed that it has begun the process of manufacturing the scrubs at its Walkinstown site in Dublin, where the fabric will initially be dyed and treated to ensure it has anti-viral properties.
The Tyrone company last week announced it was temporarily closing its operations in Strabane and Dublin and laying off its staff “due to the postponement and cancellation of sporting activities and the complete cessation of orders received from clubs and retailers as a result of Covid-19.”
The contract to produce scrubs for front-line NHS staff in the North will enable O’Neills to begin manufacturing again.
But it is unlikely that it will re-employ more than 150 people in Strabane because the company has said it will be "rigorously adhering to all the essential guidance and protocols issued by the government, Public Health Agency and World Health Organisation to keep everyone safe from Covid-19."
Kieran Kennedy, managing director of O'Neills, added: "We are ready and willing to utilise our well-established production lines to expedite this important requirement as a matter of urgency.
“We have literally been part of the fabric of local communities the length and breadth of Ireland for the past 102 years and as a company we can think of no better way to play our part in helping to save lives during the current national emergency”.