Ford Says Plants Will Be Back To Full Production By Monday

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(WWJ) It didn't take long at all to get up to speed at Ford Motor Co.

Ford confirmed Friday that the automaker is going to be back to full production on June 22 — two weeks ahead of schedule.

"We are pleased to be able to return to our normal operating pattern in the U.S. on Monday, which is sooner than expected, because our workforce and suppliers are able to support," Ford said in a statement. "The safety of our workforce continues to be our top priority."

After a 10-week shutdown of all Big 3 U.S. auto plants due to the coronavirus, when facilities got rolling again analysts expected it would be slow going for awhile. "The whole industry's going to be down several million units, even in the best scenario possible," Auto Analyst John McElroy told WWJ back in May. 

Ford's statement Friday is a good sign, amid widespread and deep concern about the U.S. economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Meanwhile, Fiat-Chrysler says there will be no traditional summer shutdown this year at several of its plants while FCA plays catch-up.

In the metro Detroit area, Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, and the Toledo Assembly complex are all affected by the decision. For the most part, WWJ Auto Beat Reporter Jeff Gilbert said these are plants that make pickup trucks and SUVs — vehicles that are in short supply following plant closures due to COVID-19.

With the virus still a worry, strict precautions are being taken at all Big 3 facilities — including workers putting on masks, safety glasses and gloves before being screened by a thermal imaging camera to check for a fever upon entering factories. Workers who have COVID-19 symptoms are put under a 14-day quarantine, while still being paid. Those cleared for work are working farther apart, with staggered break and lunch times to avoid large gatherings.