Coronavirus: Vauxhall to shut plants

Vauxhall's Luton plant, pictured, will close temporarily from Friday 20 March
PA/PA Archive/PA Images

Car manufacturer Vauxhall will close its Ellesmere Port plant for 10 days from today (17 March) over coronavirus fears.

The company’s owner, Groupe PSA, said that the factory will shut until 27 March, as will a number of other plants in France, Spain, Germany and Poland. Another UK site, in Luton, will close on Friday.

In a statement, the company said: “Due to the acceleration observed in recent days of serious Covid-19 cases close to certain production sites, supply disruptions from major suppliers, as well as the sudden decline in the automobile markets, the chairman of the executive board with the members of the crisis unit decided the principle of the closure of the vehicle production sites.

“The site management teams will implement the site closure procedures locally, which will be done in coordination with the social partners.

“Groupe PSA remind that until then, compliance with the barrier measures, going beyond the recommendations of the health authorities on the sites, are the best protection to prevent the spread of the virus.”

The company has not confirmed whether staff who are unable to work due to the closure will be paid.

A number of employers in badly hit sectors have already made temporary lay-offs or are asking staff to take unpaid leave. Airline Norwegian announced plans last week to temporarily lay off half of its staff.

Yesterday, Virgin Atlantic asked staff to take eight weeks’ unpaid leave over the next three months, with the cost spread over six months’ salary, “to drastically reduce costs without job losses”.

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