Bowing to pressure from the UAW and with a belated portion of common sense and awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ford Motor Company will stop production at U.S., Canadian and Mexican manufacturing facilities after Thursday evening’s shifts through March 30 to thoroughly clean and sanitize the company’s plants. The UAW had urged immediate closings this past weekend, but Ford executives refused to do so during the formation of a Coronavirus Task Force along General Motors and Fiat Chrysler management.
Ford temporarily closed Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) final assembly building this morning after an employee tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus and is thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the building, as promised as part of the company’s coronavirus emergency response protocol. MAP will halt production through March 30.
Ford is also taking additional production-related actions as the American government restricts travel and personal contact, affecting vehicle sales and component suppliers throughout the country. Pandemic conditions, national restrictions, supplier constraints and dealer stock requirements will be continually re-evaluated.
UAW and Ford execs will work together in the coming weeks on plant restart plans as well as exploring additional protocols and procedures for helping prevent the spread of the virus. Chief among them: finding ways to maximize social distancing among plant workers – both during work hours and at shift change, when large numbers of people typically gather at entry and exit points and maximizing cleaning times between shift changes.
The company will instruct people who have had direct contact with that infected employee to self-quarantine and get medical attention. Those who have had close contact to those who have had direct contact are asked watch for symptoms and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.
In addition, Ford vehicle manufacturing sites in Cologne and Saarlouis in Germany, together with the Craiova facility in Romania, will temporarily halt production starting Thursday. Ford’s Valencia assembly and engine facility in Spain already temporarily halted production from Monday, after three workers were confirmed with coronavirus over the past weekend.
On Monday, Ford asked all salaried employees – except those performing business critical roles that can’t be done off site – to work remotely until further notice.