Honda has become the first automaker to kick off an extended shutdown of its US manufacturing operations in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The company announced on Wednesday morning that it’s closing all of its automotive production plants in North America for six days due to an “anticipated” drop in demand.
In addition, Fiat Chrysler is indefinitely closing one of its factories where the Ram 1500 is made after a worker tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Honda says it will pay all 27,000 workers across the closed facilities during the shutdown. The six-day shutdown will drop the company’s North American vehicle output by about 40,000 vehicles. (The company made nearly 2 million vehicles in North America in 2019.)
Automakers in the US have faced increased pressure over the last few days to shut down their factories as the country comes to grips with the pandemic, and after the federal, state, and local governments started recommending people stay in their homes as much as possible. The United Auto Workers even advocated for a two-week shutdown of Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler factories, though the companies and the union ultimately agreed on Tuesday evening to just scale back and space out shifts at those automakers’ plants.