Honda North America, which operates a plant in Lincoln, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, which jointly operates the massive Toyota-Mazda plant in Huntsville, announced on Wednesday that it would be shutting down its operations beginning March 23 in order to thoroughly clean its plants as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread.
The companies also said they will continue to pay workers their full salaries during the shutdowns.
“As the market impact of the fast-changing COVID-19 situation evolves, Honda will continue to evaluate conditions and make additional adjustments as necessary,” a statement from the company read. “In undertaking this production adjustment, Honda is continuing to manage its business carefully through a measured approach to sales that aligns production with market demand.”
Honda was the first major North American manufacturer to announce a voluntary shutdown of its operations. Late Wednesday afternoon, the Big Three automakers in Detroit followed suit, announcing that they would temporarily halt production and analyze the best steps to both protect workers and keep the production lines moving. Toyota wasn’t far behind in announcing its two-day stoppage.
Elsewhere in Alabama, Hyundai Motors announced a temporary shutdown of its Montgomery plant after an employee at the plant tested positive for COVID-19. Late Wednesday afternoon, supervisors told employees that the shutdown would last until Monday.
Unlike Honda and Toyota, Hyundai officials had no plans to pay workers, telling employees that they could take the time off as unpaid or use any accrued PTO days.
It’s unclear what steps, if any, Mercedes officials have in mind for its plant near Tuscaloosa. The plant has previously informed employees that work stoppages were likely due to parts shortages stemming from production issues in Europe. The plant has already cut overtime and rolled back shifts to six hours for some employees, but as of Wednesday afternoon, there were no reports of a direct COVID-19 work stoppage for the Mercedes plant.