BAE Systems temporarily shuts after workers test positive for COVID-19

A truck passes a sign listing Covid-19 safety measures as it leaves BAE Systems Monday, April 20, 2020. The plant is on a partial shutdown after employees at the West Manchester Township plant tested positive for COVID-19. Bill Kalina photo

BAE Systems was on a partial shutdown last week after employees who worked in the same area of the West Manchester Township plant tested positive for COVID-19.

After an initial positive case was reported April 8, two additional positive cases prompted the international defense contractor to suspend some operations at its York County facility through Sunday, company spokeswoman Alicia Gray confirmed Friday afternoon.

The shutdown began April 12. Third-shift employees were the first to return Sunday night, with the majority coming back Monday morning for first and second shifts, Gray confirmed Monday.

Since the plant first sent employees home, two more employees had tested positive as of Friday, prompting the company to add safety measures out of an abundance of caution, she said.

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"The health and safety of our employees is as important as ever as we face the COVID-19 pandemic," Gray added in a company statement.

BAE Systems is experiencing a partial shutdown Monday, April 20, 2020, after employees at the West Manchester Township plant tested positive for COVID-19. Bill Kalina photo

The decision to shut down temporarily was made in partnership with union leadership, who agreed to sending employees home with paid vacation days, should they choose to use them at this time.

If not used, employees would have to take one week without pay.

Of the 1,700 employees at BAE's York facility, approximately 800 were affected by the temporary shutdown. About 150 were still working onsite last week to maintain critical operations.

BAE has had about 750 employees working remotely since early March to aid in social distancing efforts onsite — and most of these employees were not affected by the shutdown, Gray said. 

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This closure replaces BAE's weeklong maintenance closure in July, when employees are given the same option to use vacation days, according to the company.

BAE Systems, which has a plant in West Manchester Township, has been contacted to build an additional 60 self-propelled howitzers for the U.S. Army.

BAE Systems has hired WellSpan Health professionals to administer no-contact temperature checks to scan for virus symptoms, as well as distributing additional face masks and implementing enhanced social distancing practices.