Toyota to halt production three days, joining other car makers

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Toyota Manufacturing Plant, Georgetown Kentucky

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, along with all of Toyota’s manufacturing plants in North America, is halting production for a three days starting Saturday.

The shutdown has a dual purpose — protecting employees from the spread of the coronavirus and anticipating a slowdown in sales caused by the epidemic.

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“Toyota is temporarily suspending production at all of its automobile and components plants in North America, including Canada, Mexico and the U.S.  The manufacturing facilities will be closed from March 23-24, resuming production on March 25, 2020. In addition, Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, Kentucky (TMMK) will cancel Saturday production on March 21 and daily overtime,” said corporate communication analysts Justin Posey.

“This action is being taken to help ensure the health and safety of our employees, and due to an anticipated decline in market demand related to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We will conduct a thorough cleaning at all of our manufacturing facilities during the shutdown. This also will allow Toyota employees to prepare and adjust family plans in relation to regional directives to close schools. To support employees, Toyota will continue to offer full pay to all employees for Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24. The safety and security of our employees, stakeholders and community are a top priority and we will continue to monitor the situation and take action in a timely manner,” Posey added.

The stoppage runs March 21-March 23. The plant will reopen March 25 and employees will be paid through March 23, the company said.

All overtime has been cancelled.

The announcement follows similar moves by other carmakers.

Ford and General Motors will temporarily close all of their North American factories. Fiat Chrysler will do the same, according to two people briefed on the matter Wednesday.

Ford said its plants will shut down after Thursday evening shifts, through March 30, while GM said it will begin a “systematic orderly suspension” of production through at least March 30. Operations will be evaluated weekly after that.

Ford said in its statement that it will work with leaders of the United Auto Workers union in the coming weeks on plans to restart factories, as well as exploring more procedures to prevent the virus from spreading. The union has been pushing for factories to close because workers are fearful of coming into contact with the virus.

The companies’ decisions reverse a deal worked out late Tuesday in which the automakers would cancel some shifts so they could thoroughly cleanse equipment and buildings, but keep factories open. But workers, especially at some Fiat Chrysler factories, were still fearful and were pressuring the union to seek full closures.

Ford said it closed an assembly plant in the Detroit suburb of Wayne, Michigan, on Wednesday after a worker there tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. The company said it is thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the building. Production will be halted through March 30, the company said.

Honda Motor Co. announced Wednesday morning that it will temporarily close its North American factories for about one week starting on Monday, and that put additional pressure on Detroit automakers.