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Fiat to suspend ops at all Italian assembly plants due to coronavirus: source

Rome, March 11 2020 — Italy's largest carmaker Fiat Chrysler will start temporarily closing down all assembly plants in Italy starting Wednesday as part of a series of measures aimed at containing the escalating coronavirus crisis in Europe's fourth-largest economy that has led to the deaths of 631 people to date, a source close to the company said Wednesday.

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The company had already suspended operations at its Pomigliano assembly plant located in the southern Italian region of Campania, while its Melfi and Cassino assembly factories in southern and central Italy will start closing down Thursday, the source close to the company said.

Production at Fiat Chrysler's Turin Mirafiore plant will also be temporarily suspended starting from Thursday, as will its Maserati assembly operations, the source said. It's not clear how long activities will be suspended.

The measures being introduced by Fiat follow closely in the wake of Italy's government having placed the entire country in lockdown in response to the expanding outbreak that has killed many and infected more than 10,000 individuals since it started escalating in late February.

Italy Tuesday extended a partial lockdown that had initially been extended over the northern Lombardy region and other nearby areas to the entire nation, effectively placing about 60 million people in voluntary quarantine. People are being urged to stay at home and all public gatherings and sporting events have been scrapped.

Fiat had suspended operations at its Serbia car production plant in February due to a dwindling supply of spare parts resulting from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on production in China. The plant was restarted earlier this month.

Fiat is "implementing new measures across its facilities in Italy to support the nationwide campaign addressing the COVID-19 crisis," according to information provided by the carmaker in an emailed statement today. "As a result of taking these actions the company will, where necessary, make temporary closures of its plants across Italy."

The measures are being taken to "minimize the risk of spreading the contagion between employees," and "include intensive sanitization of all work and rest areas, changing rooms and washrooms," according to the statement. The company will also lower its total daily production rates in a bid to "to enable greater spacing of employees at their workstations."

The company said it had already started implementing remote-working procedures where possible for its employees starting from last month. Fiat did not provide information on plants involved or timing and duration of the suspensions.