Detroit automakers, UAW drop mask mandate at most plants

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DETROIT – The Detroit 3 automakers and UAW late Thursday announced that factory workers in areas not deemed high risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will no longer have to wear masks on the job regardless of vaccination status.

The union and automaker’s joint task force said that each company will communicate when the changes go into effect. Masks will continue to be made available at plants for workers who want to continue to wear them, the task force said.

The CDC last week significantly eased mask mandates, saying Americans in a majority of the country could take off face coverings in most situations as coronavirus cases continue to fall in much of the nation.

The new protocols will go into effect at Ford facilities starting with daytime shifts on Friday, according to Chuck Browning, UAW vice president in charge of the Ford department.

Auto workers have had to wear masks at work for all but a few weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. The task force dropped an initial mask mandate in July 2021 for workers who had been fully vaccinated before reinstating it less than a month later amid the rise of the delta variant.

The union and automakers again reiterated that they encourage all workers to get vaccinated and boosted against the coronavirus, although vaccines are not mandatory.

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