With the Covid-19 coronavirus now at pandemic levels, automakers and their suppliers in heavily affected areas like China and Europe have started closing plants.
That hasn't happened yet in North America though management at Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors, together with their counterparts at the United Auto Workers, are still taking precautions.
They announced on Sunday plans to establish a joint task force to monitor the evolving situation and implement strategies to help protect employees.
Some of the specific measures being implemented include increasing social distancing where possible, enhancing visitor screening, and ensuring extra thoroughness in cleaning and sanitizing of common areas and touch points. The task force will also look to implement new measures in dealing with people with potential exposure to the virus and those exhibiting some of its symptoms.
The task force will be led by Ford Chairman Bill Ford, Ford CEO Jim Hackett, FCA CEO Mike Manley and GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra together with UAW President Rory Gamble. Supporting them will be UAW representatives and other labor leaders at each of the automakers, as well as medical staff.
“This is a fluid and unprecedented situation, and the task force will move quickly to build on the wide-ranging preventive measures we have put in place,” the task force leaders said in a joint statement. “We are all coming together to help keep our workforces safe and healthy.”
The Circuit of the Americas over the weekend also announced it will close and lay off staff due to restrictions on public gatherings of 250 or more people in Austin, Texas, where the racetrack and events center is located. The New York International Auto Show which was scheduled for April has also been postponed to August.
Elsewhere, the past weekend's Australian Grand Prix, the opening round of the 2020 F1 season, was cancelled. The new season is now scheduled to commence in late May at a racetrack in Europe, meaning earlier scheduled races in Bahrain, China and Vietnam have all been postponed. Formula E, IndyCar and MotoGP are also postponing races.