Ford Motor Co. is reinstating mask requirements for some workers to slow an aggressive new strain of the coronavirus, telling employees Tuesday that it’s mandating face coverings at facilities in Missouri and Florida.
The company also is ordering US employees planning international business travel to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford said in an emailed statement. The move comes after General Motors Co. reinstated a mask mandate at a Missouri factory last week and as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reverted to tighter mask guidelines.
Detroit automakers and the United Auto Workers union eliminated mask mandates on July 12, as vaccinations became more widespread. But as the delta variant of the virus spreads, US health officials, including Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, have advised a return to mask wearing for vaccinated individuals in some public indoor settings.
“With a data-driven approach to our global Covid-19 protocols and the increase in cases in specific US regions, Ford is reinstating face mask protocols in select states,” Ford said in the statement. “We will continue to evaluate COVID-19 case data to make further protocol changes.”
GM said Tuesday it hasn’t expanded that requirement beyond its pickup truck and van plant in Wentzville, Missouri. A spokeswoman for Stellantis NV, which was formed from the merger of France’s PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said the company is not mandating masks.
Ford has a factory in Claycomo, Missouri, that employs more than 7,000 workers and manufactures its top-selling F-150 pickup and Transit vans. In Florida, the automaker has a parts depot and offices of its Ford Credit lending unit.
A spokesman for the UAW said the union is working with car manufacturers through its Covid Task Force and will make decisions on a worksite-by-worksite basis.