Ford started resuming vehicle production in the U.S. on May 18, 2020 with new coronavirus safety protocols such as health assessments, personal protective equipment and facility modifications to increase social distancing.
DETROIT – Ford Motor is reinstating mask requirements for workers and visitors at facilities in Missouri and Florida, both of which are considered emerging hot spots for delta variant Covid-19 infections.
The company also will require U.S. employees planning international business travel to be vaccinated against Covid-19, Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker confirmed Wednesday.
“The health and safety of our workforce continues to be our top priority. With a data-driven approach to our global COVID-19 protocols and the increase in cases in specific U.S. regions, Ford is reinstating face mask protocols in select states,” Felker said in an emailed statement. “We will continue to evaluate COVID-19 case data to make further protocol changes.”
In Missouri, Ford’s Kansas City Assembly plant employs about 7,250 people that build the Ford F-150 pickup and Transit van. It has offices and parts depots in Florida but no plants.
Ford’s move follows General Motors, which reinstated a mask mandate at a plant in Missouri last week due to an increase in cases in the area.
Felker said Ford’s decision was made before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid transmission rates.
United Auto Workers spokesman Brian Rothenberg said the union has been in discussions with medical experts and the companies as “they make these decisions on a worksite-by-worksite basis.”
The new mask mandates come about a month after the UAW, which represents tens of thousands of auto workers, and Detroit automakers, including Stellantis, agreed to make face masks optional for employees who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
GM said it is reviewing the latest CDC guidance and “determining how it might impact our current COVID-19 safety protocols.” Stellantis did not immediately respond for comment.
Face masks have been a major complaint over the past year or so of autoworkers, many of whom work physical jobs in hot environments.