May 21, 2020 / 3:13 PM / 9 days ago

Italy's Luxottica trials workers' tag to fight coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: The Luxottica name is reflected in a pair of sunglasses in this photo illustration taken in Rome February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian eyewear maker Luxottica will give employees a monitor that alerts them if they are not respecting social distancing rules and keeps track of contacts with people potentially at risk of coronavirus infection, it said on Thursday.

The maker of Ray-Ban, Oakley and Persol sunglasses, which merged with French group Essilor in 2018 to create EssilorLuxottica, will trial the electronic device at its main Agordo plant in the Veneto region in the next few days.

It is part of a prevention programme that includes extensive testing of workers and their family members which will be extended to other production sites and offices of the Italian group founded by billionaire tycoon Leonardo Del Vecchio. The firm employs 80,000 people.

The device, similar to an electronic badge which workers can carry with their routine access card, is equipped with a sensor that produces a sound alert if workers stay less than 1.5 metres apart.

Employees will be identified by an encrypted code and their data collected by a central database which will keep track of people’s contacts so that, in the event of a worker testing positive, colleagues can be alerted and tested too.

Andrea Crisanti, a professor of microbiology at Padua University who is working with Luxottica on the programme, said he hoped the new system would help detect potentially infectious workers with no symptoms.

The trial is one of a number of initiatives companies across the world are introducing to try to keep their employees safe as lockdowns to contain the pandemic are gradually eased.

Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi, writing by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Mark Potter

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