For the last several nights it’s been impossible to turn on a screen and not encounter some besuited mouthpiece telling you that face coverings and social distancing will be the peak of fashion by this fall. In the real world, we’ve seen this mirrored by governments and businesses reinstituting COVID restrictions. General Motors even got out early and decided (with encouragement from the UAW) to bring back masking in Missouri.
Now it’s Ford’s turn.
Having previously revived masking rules for its facilities in two states, the Blue Oval informed its Kentucky workforce that it will likewise be subject to restrictions on Thursday. According to Automotive News, the rules won’t go into effect for Kentucky Truck and Louisville Assembly until Sunday.
Rules appear to be the same as the ones lifted by all of the Big Three on July 12th. Ford’s stated reasoning is identical to what was provided earlier in the week, when it announced restrictions for Missouri and Florida. It’s worried about elevated infection figures and the Delta variant getting line workers sick. But while the Show-Me State yields Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant, Florida only has some parts warehouses/shipping hubs. Restrictions pertain to everyone, including those who have been fully vaccinated.
A Ford spokeswoman reiterated a statement issued Tuesday that the automaker could make additional changes as necessary based on data. The delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to spread in various areas throughout the U.S.
Also this week, Ford said it will require U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before any international business travel, based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But Ford’s initial decisions were actually made shortly before the CDC updated guidance that vaccinated people begin wearing masks again, with the same being true for General Motors. But the UAW had been in discussions with medical experts and the companies all year to decide what protocols would be ideal for individual worksites. They clearly played a factor in GM’s decision to return to masking and likely had a hand in encouraging Ford to do likewise.
Stellantis has kept relatively quiet about the matter but GM and Ford have said they plan on keeping CDC guidance at the front of their mind when determining future safety protocols. While we haven’t been able to take the temperature of any automotive employees on the updated factory rules, several expressed mixed feelings on masking at the end of June. Employee compliance was also said to be getting lax, making us wonder if workers (or employers) will even bother adhering to masking mandates with any seriousness this late in the game. After all, the original “two weeks to flatten the curve” has lasted roughly five hundred days and we’re seeing fewer and fewer covered faces out there.
[Image: Miljan Zivkovic/Shutterstock]
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