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In a message to employees Friday, aircraft manufacturer Boeing said it planned to resume operations on a limited basis, possibly as soon as Monday, according to reports.
“There will be new policies and procedures for social distancing and work area cleaning,” the Boeing message read, accordiing to The Seattle Times. “If you are able to support continued production, please reach out to your manager.”
“If you are able to support continued production, please reach out to your manager.”
— Boeing message to employees
The news comes as President Trump plans to name a second coronavirus task force, this one charged with reviving the U.S. economy, which has been stalled by state-mandated shutdowns that have temporarily shuttered businesses and resulted in millions of layoffs across the country.
It also comes amid reports that Boeing was considering a 10 percent cut in its global workforce of about 160,000 employees, including buyout offers, early retirements and involuntary layoffs.
Boeing plans to provide returning workers with personal protective equipment, such as face masks, and enact social distancing measures at its work sites, such as floor markings and staggered work times, the Times reported.
The president of a union that represents Boeing employees welcomed the move “as long as Boeing can provide a safe workplace,” the Times reported.
“Social distancing is going to be the toughest part,” Jon Holden, president of the International Association of Machinists union District 751, told the newspaper.
Holden said workers concerned about risks to family members will have the option of going on unemployment instead.
“That will be up to the individual,” he said.
Boeing is a key supplier to the U.S. military as well as commercial airlines. Work scheduled to resume will involve the manufacture of KC-46 refueling plans and P-8 anti-submarine aircraft, Seattle’s KING-TV reported.
Returning workers also will perform maintenance on 737 MAX passenger jets, which have been grounded following a pair of crashes that raised questions about the model’s safety, the station reported.
A mural of a Boeing 747-8 airplane is seen at the company's manufacturing facility in Everett, Wash., north of Seattle, March 23, 2020. (Associated Press)
Just five days earlier the company said its coronavirus shutdown, which began March 25, would continue indefinitely. It was unclear what prompted the turnaround.
Virus mitigation efforts in Washington state have been so successful that Gov. Jay Inslee announced last Sunday that the state would send more than 400 of the ventilators it received from the federal government on to New York and other states still struggling to contain the virus.
Washington once led the U.S. in confirmed coronavirus cases but has since dropped out of the top 10 states. It remains in the top 10 in deaths, however.
Meanwhile, President Trump told reporters Friday that his administration planned to meet with officials from Boeing and other companies in a bid to help the airline industry weather the shutdown caused by the virus outbreak.
"We're going to be meeting with Boeing, we're going to be meeting with a lot of companies that are great companies and were great companies a short while ago," Trump said, according to Newsweek, adding the U.S. "can't let anything happen to Boeing."
The company is scheduled to receive as much as $17 billion in aid under the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that Congress recently approved and Trump signed into law, the report said.