Honda and Toyota reopen their Alabama plants with COVID-19 protection measures

Honda and Toyota reopen their Alabama plants with COVID-19 protection measures
The reopening of Honda Manufacturing of Alabama and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama means all four of the state's automotive operations are moving back into production following shutdowns due to COVID-19. (file)

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama reopened its auto plant in Lincoln Monday, the same day Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama started back its engine plant in Huntsville.

Both plants had been closed since late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers are returning to sanitized workspaces and learning new ways to operate with social distancing and additional personal protective equipment.

The reopening of the Honda and Toyota Alabama plants is part of a resuming of all North America operations for the two automakers.

They follow reopenings in Alabama of Mercedes-Benz U.S International, which resumed production in Tuscaloosa last week, and Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, which has been running one shift since May 4. Plans are for Hyundai to run one of its three shifts for the first three weeks under its new COVID-19 guidelines with an eye on running three shifts beginning May 26.

Getting the automotive sector of the economy up and running again is important for Alabama, which is home to 40,000 automotive manufacturing jobs, including the automakers and engine plants, as well as more than 150 Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers.

Alabama elected officials have joined those from other automaker states in advocating for some sort of relief effort to support the U.S. auto industry after its losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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