Boeing will temporarily suspend production at its major facilities in Washington State because of the spread of coronavirus in the region.
The US manufacturer said it would start reducing production activity from Wednesday at sites across the Puget Sound.
The biggest impact will be at its massive Everett facility, where the manufacturer makes several widebody aircraft, including the new 777X.
Boeing in January halted production of the 737 MAX, which is made at a separate facility in Renton.
The two-week suspension is a result of the coronavirus emergency in Washington state, which was an early US site of the contagion, and comes after several Boeing employees tested positive for the disease.
The state had reported 110 deaths from 2221 cases as of 3 pm Monday as the disease continues to spread across the US and more states are in lockdown with stay-at-home orders.
Archrival Airbus also suspended French and Spanish production to deal with the pandemic but is now bringing them back online.
Boeing said it would continue to monitor government guidance and actions on COVID-19 and its associated impacts on all company operations.
It would also take the opportunity to conduct additional deep cleaning activities at affected sites and establishing rigorous criteria for return to work.
“This necessary step protects our employees and the communities where they work and live,” said Boeing chief executive Dave Calhoun.
“We continue to work closely with public health officials, and we’re in contact with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders who are affected by this temporary suspension.
“We regret the difficulty this will cause them, as well as our employees, but it’s vital to maintain health and safety for all those who support our products and services, and to assist in the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
The company is allowing those employees who can work from home to do so and those unable to do so will get paid leave for the initial 10 working days of the suspension – double the company policy. This will cover the entire 14-days of the shutdown.
“We will keep our employees, customers and supply chain top of mind as we continue to assess the evolving situation,” Calhoun said. “This is an unprecedented time for organizations and communities across the globe.”
The company said it would take an orderly approach to restarting production once the suspension is lifted.
it also announced its April 27 annual meeting would be virtual and shareholders would not be able to attend in person.