Canadian auto plants will continue to follow COVID-19 safety protocols for the time being despite similar restrictions being lifted for fully vaccinated employees in the United States.
Representatives from Unifor, Ford, Stellantis, General Motors, Toyota and Honda, told Automotive News Canada they are staying the course and awaiting further guidance for their Ontario plants. Current protocols include health surveys, temperature checks, enforced physical distancing and the required use of face masks and shields.
“I think we’re just waiting,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said. “We’re just following the government guidelines, so we haven’t been told anything different.
“Ontario is still the only place in North America that still doesn’t have any indoor dining,” Dias said. “[That level of restriction is] where all of our assembly plants are, so we are behind the eight ball in that regard and so we’re erring obviously on the side of safety.”
In the United States, the COVID-19 Joint Task Force, comprised of the UAW, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, removed the mask mandate for fully vaccinated workers on July 12. The UAW said the decision was made after reviewing updated information from medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Workers who have not been vaccinated are still required to wear masks in UAW plants.
Masks in Ontario plants are still required, but GM said in an emailed statement the “increasing vaccination level is an important factor to support future changes to our COVID safety protocols.”
As of July 6, the province reported that 78.4 per cent of eligible residents had received at least one vaccine, while 47.8 per cent had been fully vaccinated.