Tuesday, 10 August 2021 20:20

Automakers Tighten Up Restrictions as COVID Cases Surge

Written by Paul A. Eisenstein, The Detroit Bureau
Mercedes-Benz employees in the U.S. must wear masks while indoors again. Mercedes-Benz employees in the U.S. must wear masks while indoors again.


...all employees and contractors to wear an approved mask while indoors at all company facilities nationwide,” said Rob Moran, the head of U.S. public relations. “This revised requirement is independent of vaccination status and location.”


While it hasn’t gone quite so far, General Motors “reinstated our mask mandate at our Wentzville (MO) assembly plant last week,” spokesman Dan Flores wrote in an e-mail. “That decision was made after our GM Medical team recommended it based upon local infection rates.”


While no other operations have been impacted, Flores said the medical unit is “reviewing the latest CDC guidance and determining how it might impact our current COVID-19 safety protocols.”


GM is one of the automotive manufacturers who coordinate their pandemic response through a COVID-19 Task Force. It approved the lifting of mask mandates for fully vaccinated employees early in July---though they can still wear a mask if they choose.


As part of that group, Stellantis is “continu(ing) to monitor data carefully and has said all along that we will make any adjustments necessary to protect the health and safety of employees,” senior spokesperson Shawn Morgan said in an e-mail.


The industry’s COVID-19 Task Force is planning to meet in the next week or two to discuss the changing situation, several officials told TheDetroitBureau.com.


Automakers have slowly begun bringing white-collar employees back to their desks and workstations, though Ford and GM earlier this year announced flexible programs that left it up to managers to decide whether staff could continue to work from home or find some other alternative, such as splitting up the week, part of the time coming in and part of the time continuing to stay home.


The rise of the Delta variant threatens to force automakers to tear up their plans.


“At our corporate headquarters in California, we have temporarily delayed the next phase of our return to office plan,” said Michele Tinson, a spokesperson for Hyundai Motor America’s Midwest and East Coast regions. “At all of our facilities, we continue to...

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