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Right after Foxconn began a major recruitment phase in its Zhengzhou factory for an expansion of iPhone production, the company has frozen hiring until the latest COVID-19 lockdown ends.
Foxconn is one of the primary manufacturers of iPhones and has been able to remain unaffected by the latest COVID-19 lockdowns for the most part, until now. The company had begun an unusual off-season hiring run at the beginning of May, but that has ceased thanks to new COVID cases and a citywide lockdown.
According to South China Morning Post there were ten new asymptomatic carriers and four new COVID-19 cases. This surge in cases led the city of Zhengzhou to impose a seven-day lockdown from Wednesday to Tuesday, May 10.
Normally, Foxconn would begin hiring assembly workers in earnest from June to July to meet the demand for new iPhone production. So, the unusually early hiring spree is about eight weeks earlier than normal seasonal production for the fall iPhone lineup, and was suspected to be for iPhone 13 production.
It's not clear what impact the continued lockdowns will have on "iPhone 14" production, but a cease in hiring doesn't mean manufacturing has stopped. The "iPhone City" Foxconn operates is a series of factories and dormitories that workers cycle between on a closed-loop system. In other words, people aren't violating the lockdown by going to work.
Foxconn says the main disruption to production, however, is the logistics of transporting goods and dealing with increased protocols around testing and disinfection.