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Toyota to suspend Cambridge, Woodstock operations until April 6

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada will suspend its operations beginning March 19 through April 6. The decision comes after a worker at the Toyota Cambridge plant tested positive for COVID-19, a company spokesperson confirmed.

Worker at Cambridge plant tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, spokesperson says

Line workers assemble a Lexus SUV at the Toyota plant in Cambridge, Ont., on July 31, 2015. (Aaron Lynett/Canadian Press)

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada will suspend operations at its Cambridge and Woodstock, Ont. plants from the afternoon of March 19 through to April 6.

The suspension is slightly longer than at other Toyota automobile and components plants in North America. These manufacturing facilities will shutter from March 23 to April 3, with production set to resume April 6, the company said in a statement.

"The action is being taken to protect the health and safety of our employees, key stakeholders and communities, as well as a result of the significant market decline due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," said spokesperson Michael Bouliane in an email statement.

Toyota's parts service depots and vehicle logistics centres will continue to operate, the statement said. 

Course change 

The decision marks a change in course. On Wednesday, the company announced it would shutter operations two days for a "thorough cleaning" beginning March 23-24 with production resuming March 25. 

Thursday morning, the company confirmed that a worker at the Cambridge plant had tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-isolating at home. 

Following that decision, multiple employees reached out to CBC saying they were unsatisfied with how the company had handled the situation and wanted to see a longer shutdown. 

MP called for Toyota to close plant

Bryan May, member of Parliament for Cambridge, said Thursday he was pleased Toyota was "putting the health and wellness of their staff first."

Earlier in the day, May had called on Toyota to shutter its Cambridge plant "as soon as possible."

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region's acting medical officer of health, said Hamilton Public Health had tested the Toyota Cambridge worker and had been taking the lead on advising the plant about next steps.

Dr. Wang said whether the plant should shut down depended on the level of risk that coworkers could have. 

 "There isn't a broad recommendation to close workplaces as soon as there's a case, it would depend on the degree of risk that other workers could be exposed to," she said.

"It depends on the degree of ongoing risk. If there is no continuing exposure in a workplace, then there's no continuing risk to workers."

Worker self-isolating

The company said Thursday that a worker at the Toyota Cambridge plant had tested positive for COVID-19.

Bouliane said they were informed of the positive case Wednesday by Hamilton Public Health. 

The employee worked their last shift March 12 and has since been "off work, taking action to minimize risk to others," he said.

The Toyota Cambridge health centre "immediately" notified public health and followed protocols, Bouliane said.

"Our affected employee — as well as those identified as having had close contact with the individual — will remain in self-isolation and will not return to work until being cleared by a physician," Bouliane said.

Bouliane said the plant also deep cleaned and disinfected areas where the employees had worked.

Employees were reportedly informed Wednesday evening.

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