MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – General Motors Co (GM.N) on Thursday was restarting the eight-speed transmission line at its plant in Silao in Mexico’s Guanajuato state, according to a company message sent to workers.
FILE PHOTO: The GM logo is seen at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Ramos Arizpe, state of Coahuila, Mexico October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
The reopening of the plant is a welcome sign for the North American auto sector, with supply lines highly interconnected between the United States, Mexico and Canada.
“Specific start today for eight-speed plant, the other plants will restart according to the operating plan and will be announced later,” said the message seen by Reuters.
The plant in central Guanajuato state has been idled for weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected 56,594 people and killed 6,090 in Mexico so far. Workers had previously been told to plan to return to their jobs on Monday.
GM Mexico had no immediate comment.
The government last week gave Mexico’s automotive industry the green light to exit the coronavirus lockdown before June 1 if firms have approved safety measures in place, after initially giving confusing signals about when the restart would begin.
The message from the “federal government was very confusing, but the fog has started to lift a little,” said Mauricio Usabiaga, Guanajuato’s state economic development minister.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration issued guidelines on Monday for restarting operations in the automotive, mining and construction sectors, pushing ahead with the economic reopening even as coronavirus-related deaths hit new highs.
Mexico registered 424 fatalities from coronavirus on Wednesday, a record one-day death toll since the start of the pandemic.
“The reopening is happening as the pandemic is hitting the country hard. We have to be very careful, prudent and conscientious,” said Usabiaga.
GM Mexico employees headed back to work are being asked to use personal protective equipment “at all times”, have their temperatures checked when the arrive to the plant, and maintain a “safe distance” of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) from other workers, according to the message.
Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Tom Brown