Manufacturing facility staff started returning to assembly lines in Michigan Monday, paving the way to reopen the U.S. auto industry but stoking fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections as strict lockdowns are relaxed throughout the nation.
With millions of Americans out of work and far of the financial system at a virtual standstill, a growing number of states are easing tough restrictions on commerce and social life put in place to slow the pandemic.
Some auto suppliers in Michigan, a Midwest industrial powerhouse hard struck by the pandemic and its economic downturn, reopened factories Monday with skeleton crews to get ready for a resumption of car manufacturing next week.
Skilled-trades employees and salaried workers additionally started returning to auto assembly plants to prepare for the wider restart.
Manufacturing facility workers will be issued face masks, checked for fever and required to submit health-screening questionnaires.
The manufacturing reopening approved last week by Governor Gretchen Whitmer was crucial not only to auto factories in Michigan but to automobile production elsewhere because so many vital parts suppliers are based in and around the automaking centre of Detroit.
Ford stated it had adopted safety protocols from China, where automobile production resumed in late February, along with private protective garments on assembly lines, limitations separating employees clustered together and sanitized work areas.
Much is at stake. The auto industry accounts for 6% of U.S. economic production and employs over 835,000 Americans.