Fiat Chrysler temporarily halts some Italian plants to battle virus

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) worker, wearing a protective face mask, leaves a Mirafiori plant, after the Italian government puts the whole country on lockdown as new coronavirus cases surge, in Turin, Italy March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

MILAN (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler FCHA.MI is temporarily halting operations at some plants in Italy and will reduce production rates in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the largest in Europe, a spokesman for the automaker said on Wednesday.

Fiat Chrysler (FCA) said in a statement it had stepped up measures across its facilities, including intensive sanitisation of all work and rest areas, to support the government’s directives to curb the spread of the infectious disease.

“As a result of taking these actions the company will, where necessary, make temporary closures of its plants across Italy,” it said.

The spokesman said affected plants were Pomigliano, Melfi, Atessa and Cassino, each of them halted for two or three days between Wednesday and Saturday.

FCA said that to allow greater spacing of employees at their workstations, “daily production rates will be lowered to accommodate the adapted manufacturing processes”.

However, a source close to the matter said FCA did not expect an impact on overall production rates.

The source added that temporary closures were in no way linked to disruptions of auto parts supplies following anti-virus measures imposed by Rome all over Italy.

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, editing by Giulia Segreti and Mark Potter