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.


...closely monitor case counts, regulations and guidelines to determine the right approach to keep our employees safe and healthy.”


A number of automakers, including Hyundai, have made access to the various vaccines at worksites. So far, none have mandated getting vaccinated. But, on background, sources at several companies said that could be an option if the latest surge of COVID infections continues accelerating.


The closest any company has yet come is Ford which “will now require U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to any international business travel due to the potential of increased exposure to COVID-19. Ford continues to strongly encourage all team members who are medically able to be vaccinated,” spokesperson Kelli Felker told TheDetroitBureau.com.


The auto industry was hit hard during the early days of the pandemic. Scores of workers were infected, many requiring hospitalization, and more than a few succumbing to COVID by the time factories and offices were closed in March 2020. Manufacturers raced to come up with protocols to keep manufacturing sites safe once plants began reopening in late May and into June.


Those protocols had been quite successful, according to officials from around the industry. But, as the Delta variant has spread and mask and social distancing efforts have been relaxed in many parts of the country, infection rates have been accelerating. Automakers are determined to prevent a repeat of what happened 18 months ago, with new plant closures a major concern.


“We’ve always told our teammates the virus runs the show here,” said Toyota’s Reynolds. The challenge, he stressed, is coming up with ways to keep COVID from winning.


We thank The Detroit Bureau for reprint permission.


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