Ford Production Begins, COVID Rules Relax

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Ford has officially restarted production in its Bridgend (petrol engines) and Dagenham (diesel engines).

Other manufacturers are set to follow too, with Vauxhall preparing its Ellesmere Port factory for safe re-opening, while Bentley HQ in Crewe has seen more than 1,700 staff return to work.

It’s promising news for the UK automotive industry, which suffered a 97% decline in sales this month. However, it’s yet to be seen whether new safety measures for workers will still allow cars to be produced effectively.

Read on to see Ford’s guidelines for helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Also, discover which of the country’s car makers are on the verge of re-opening.

Ford’s safety measures for staff

It goes without saying that, after more than two months of shutting up shop, car factories in the UK and worldwide won’t be returning to the same workplace they left.

Hundreds of staff work in close proximity to one another when assembling cars, often sharing the same tools in the process. But Ford has come up with a set of guidelines for reducing the risk of coronavirus spreading among staff, which others are likely to adopt too.

These are:

  • Face masks for anyone entering the facility, and face shields for certain employees in manufacturing roles.
  • Temperature checks for anyone entering the facility, using scanners which meet local/national regulations.
  • Daily wellness self-assessments to confirm staff are fit and ready to work before entering the facility.
  • Work areas redesigned to make sure social distancing is maintained, plus phased returned to work to reduce employee density in the building.

What are other manufacturers doing?

Rolls-Royce was the first firm in the UK to begin production, opening the doors of its 1,000-strong Goodwood site on May 4.

However, since the news of Ford’s re-opening, others have announced their intentions to get into gear and start working again. This includes Aston Martin, Mini, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Toyota and Vauxhall.

Aston Martin

  • Where: Gaydon, Warwickshire and St Athan, South Wales
  • When: St Athan plant open now, Gaydon global HQ to follow in coming weeks
  • How: Phased return of staff with PPE mandatory for all, temperature checks on arrival and limited employees on site at any one time
  • Cars produced: Brand-new DBX-SUV, One-77, Cygnet, DBS, DB9, Vantage, Virage, Vanquish, Rapide


Mini Oxford
  • Where: Cowley, Oxford
  • When: Open now
  • How: A “staggered approach” which is likely going to include a phased return of the 4,500 staff
  • Cars produced: 5,000 cars a week, including the Clubman, Convertible, Coupe, Hatchback and Roadster

Jaguar Land Rover

  • Where: Solihull, Warwickshire and Coven, Wolverhampton
  • When: Open now
  • How: Partial resumption of production with stringent safety and social distancing measures in place
  • Cars produced*: Defender, Discovery 4, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover

*The Castle Bromwich plant, which produces the Jaguar XF, XJ, XK and F-Type, will remain closed for the foreseeable future. As will the Halewood factory, which produces the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque.


Nissan Sunderland
  • Where: Tyne and Wear, Sunderland
  • When: Plans to re-open early June
  • How: Small-scale return in stages while obeying government health advice, with 150 staff already brought in as part of a pilot scheme to open its doors
  • Cars produced**: Juke, Leaf, Note and Qashqai

**Renault is working with Nissan to move production of its Captur and Kadjar SUVs to the Sunderland plant.


  • Where: Burnaston, South Derbyshire
  • When: Plans to reopen 26 May
  • How: Gradual re-opening with increased cleaning rotas, social distancing and providing PPE for the 2,000 staff who work there and any visitors to the site
  • Cars produced: Corolla


Vauxhall factory
  • Where: Ellesmere Port, Cheshire and Luton
  • When: Luton open, Ellesmere Port not given re-opening date yet
  • How: In Luton, 800 out of 1,600 staff have returned and regular temperature checks through an infrared sensor plus PPE equipment is being supplied
  • Cars produced***: Vivaro

***The closed Ellesmere Port plant produces the Astra family car.

Want to stay informed about the latest car industry news during the coronavirus? Then head over to the Moneyshake blog.