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Ford postpones reopening ‘key’ plants due to coronavirus pandemic

The Ford Motor Co. Michigan Assembly plant stands idle in Wayne, Michigan, U.S., on Monday, March 23, 2020.

Anthony Lanzilote | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Less than a week after Ford Motor said it would restart production at “key” plants in North America beginning in early-April, the company has postponed those plans as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the U.S. 

Ford on Tuesday said it is delaying the restart of a car plant in Mexico as well as four truck, SUV and van plants in the U.S. ” to help protect its workers.” The company declined to provide a new timeline for reopening the plants.

“The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners and communities remains our highest priority,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president of North America, in a press release. “We are working very closely with union leaders – especially at the UAW – to develop additional health and safety procedures aimed at helping keep our workforce safe and healthy.”

When Ford initially announced plans to reopen the plants last week,  United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble said the union was reviewing the plans “with great caution and concern.” Several UAW members with the automakers have died from COVID-19, including two Ford workers over the weekend.

Urged by the UAW, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors announced plans to temporarily shutter their plants due to the coronavirus on March 18. Ford and Fiat Chrysler last week announced plans to begin restarting production in April, while GM has suspended the restart indefinitely.

Ford’s postponement comes two days after President Donald Trump  extended national social-distancing guidelines to combat the spread of the coronavirus through April.

Company spokeswoman Kelli Felker said Ford will “continue to assess public health conditions, government guidelines and supplier readiness” to determine when the time is right to resume production.

Several automakers on Monday, including Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota Motor said they would continue with plans to restart U.S. production in April, but executives were actively monitoring and assessing the situation.

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