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French Auto Workers Return to Factory Floors As Works Begin Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Employees wearing protective face masks work on the automobile assembly line at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing France plant as it resumes its operations after five weeks of closure during a lockdown amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Onnaing, France, April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Employees wearing protective face masks work on the automobile assembly line at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing France plant as it resumes its operations after five weeks of closure during a lockdown amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Onnaing, France, April 23, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Carmakers are following several guidelines such as providing masks to employees and ensuring that they keep a safe distance in a bid to curb coronavirus.

Masked and keeping their distance, French auto workers are returning to factory floors at Toyota and Renault in a cautious move toward reviving the virus-battered economy.

Renault restarted assembly lines Tuesday for its Zoe electric cars at a plant in Flins outside Paris, though only a quarter of staff is allowed in so far.

The company - which is negotiating with the French government for billions of euros in potential bailout funds - has resumed some activity at plants in China, Spain, Portugal, Russia and Romania, but work remains halted in India, Latin America and most facilities in its home country of France.

In the northern town of Onnaing near Valenciennes, Toyota workers came back to work this week at a plant that used to churn out more than 1,000 Yaris cars a day. They are having their temperatures checked and given masks, and new social distancing rules are in place on the factory floor and cafeteria and other common spaces.

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