Boeing will temporarily shut its assembly lines in the state of Washington for two weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
'These actions are being taken to ensure the well-being of employees, their families and the local community, and will include an orderly shutdown consistent with the requirements of its customers,' said Boeing.
It said the shutdown of operations will begin Monday and it is the suspension of operations is expected to begin on Wednesday and last for 14 days.
During that time Boeing said it will be conducting additional deep cleaning activities at impacted sites and establishing rigorous criteria for return to work. Affected workers will be paid during the shutdown.
The company had already requested that its employees who could work from home do so, but the production line workers don't have that option.
The Machinists union, which represents most of the hourly production workers in Washington state, has about 35,000 of those workers. There are also thousands of management employees and inspectors who work on the production line.
But Boeing had already shut down production of its assembly line in Renton, Washington where the Boeing 737 Max had been built. That plane was grounded last year following two fatal crashes, and while Boeing continued to build the plane throughout the rest of 2019, it temporarily shut the line in January. The employees who worked on the Max had not been laid off but were reassigned to other duties.
Boeing said it will keep a 787 assembly line in South Carolina open at this time, as well as military and helicopter assembly lines near St. Louis and Philadelphia.
The state of Washington has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus with a total of nearly 2,000 confirmed cases and 95 deaths as of Sunday, according to the state.
Several of Boeing's production workers had been diagnosed with the disease. The Machinist's union announced that one its members who worked at the Boeing plant in Everett, Washington, had died of complications from the disease.
'This devastating fact adds to an already deteriorating situation,' the union's statement said.