Ford has announced the temporary suspension of production at various manufacturing plants around the world, including here in South Africa, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The factory closures started on 21 March and will “continue for several weeks” depending on the “pandemic situation, national restrictions, supplier constraints and dealer stock requirements”.

In South Africa, the Silverton assembly plant in Pretoria (which builds the Ranger and Everest) and the Struandale engine plant in Port Elizabeth are expected to stop production on 27 March. The news follows BMW's decision to shut the doors to Plant Rosslyn for a month.

“The health and safety of our employees, dealers, customers, partners and communities is our highest priority,” said Mark Ovenden, president, International Markets Group at Ford Motor Company.

“We are continuing to act in real time and taking added safety measures by temporarily halting production at our manufacturing sites in the international markets.”

Four plants in India and one each in Vietnam and Thailand will also shut down.

These measures follow actions previously announced by Ford, including the temporary suspension of vehicle and engine production in North America, Europe and South America.

“In these extraordinary times, we must come together to put our people first. We will continue working across our region to explore additional protocols and procedures to help prevent the spread of the virus and define new work practices to lessen its effects wherever we can,” said Ovenden.