Panasonic will resume production this week at Tesla’s solar panel plant in Buffalo, N.Y., after some businesses in western New York were allowed to reopen,media reported. It is reported that the factory has been shut down for about two months. “I have decided to reopen the plant from Wednesday, May 20,” Mark Shima, president of Panasonic’s North American solar division, wrote in an email to 400 employees Monday night.
He said equipment inspections would take place for the first two days and that “standard manufacturing” would not start until Friday, May 22.
In addition, Shima wrote, “Panasonic has worked closely with Tesla to prepare for masks, disinfectants, wet wipes, new entry, restaurant and production floor regulations, and new allocations for office space seats so that everyone can stay 6 feet apart.” The email also shows that employees must also receive epidemiological safety training before the first shift.
It’s unclear whether Tesla, which employs more than 1,000 people at the plant, will also resume production there after resuming battery production in Nevada and california. Several company spokesmen declined to comment.
Panasonic had planned to get employees back to work on May 16, but had to postpone the restart because it did not initially meet all the standards proposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for reopening. Production has been out of production since mid-March, when a factory worker was tested for the new coronavirus shortly after the Panasonic plant closed — the fourth known positive for Tesla’s U.S. plant at the time.
Panasonic announced plans to close its operations at its Buffalo plant earlier this year. The company tells most employees that they only need to work until the end of May, but some do not have to work until the beginning of June. But because the shutdown cost Panasonic two months of production, Shima told employees that Panasonic would now adjust its operating hours to the end of June. The company is expected to exit the plant completely in September.