Honda to shut down North American factories for six days

Honda said Wednesday it will shutter all of its North American factories for six days due to an expected decline in the market related to the economic fallout from the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by coronavirus.

The stoppage will affect about 27,600 Honda employees in North America, all of whom will continue to be paid, Honda said. Production will be reduced by about 40,000 vehicles during these six days across its 12 plants.

The temporary suspension will begin March 23 with plans to return to production March 31, Honda said in a statement. Honda’s factories as well as its transmission and engine plants that serve the auto plants in Ohio, Indiana, Alabama, Canada and Mexico will be closed.

Honda said it will use this time to continue deep cleaning its production facilities and common areas.

The shut down by Honda marks the first sweeping action by an automaker in the U.S. to close factories. Other automakers like Ford and GM have taken steps to lessen the spread of COVID-19, including staggering shifts and lunches and cleaning and sanitizing areas. However, most factories remain open in spite of a call from the United Auto Workers to close.

This may only be the beginning of factory closures, not just at Honda, but throughout the U.S., as local, state and federal authorities make recommendations or issue orders to close non-essential businesses.

Honda said it will continue to evaluate conditions and “make additional adjustments as necessary.”