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Big Three prep for eventual reopening of facilities

DETROIT – President Donald Trump and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are signaling an end to the lock down in the not too distant future.

Many residents are wondering what workplaces will look like in the new socially distanced world -- especially auto companies.

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As of Friday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the only one of the Big Three that has a hard date to start operations back up. FCA’s U.S. and Canadian manufacturing facilities will start opening May 4.

Ford Motor Company and General Motors aren’t so certain, but they are working together with the United Auto Workers to have a unified front for restarting safely.

GM shipped its first ventilators to a Chicago hospital Friday. Ventec Life Systems CEO Chris Kiple was emotional about the team’s accomplishment.

“We really took some of the best of American innovation, the best of American manufacturing and the best people’s hearts and we put them together with one team and one mission.”

Ford is experimenting at its Plymouth face shield assembly operation with wrist bands that vibrate when people get too close together.

What the auto makers are doing now at its plants and their social distancing protocols will serve as a template for the automotive facility future.

The GM, Ford, FCA and UAW task force is looking to these facilities as a guide for plant reopenings.

While they’ve not completed their final rules, here is what is likely coming for autoworkers:

  • They will go online every day before going to work and self-certify they are healthy and haven’t been exposed to anyone testing positive.
  • Everyone will get their temperatures taken by a thermal scanner before getting into the building -- a fever will get you sent home.
  • Once inside any facility you’ll be required to wear a face mask at all times -- only when doing things like eating or drinking can they be removed.
  • Workers will socially distance wherever practical and there will be larger time gaps between shifts for increased disinfecting and keeping workers from different shifts apart.

Anyone who believes they might have coronavirus should follow the CDC guidelines. Michigan.gov has a list of resources available to those concerned about COVID-19.

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