Face masks and a factory redesign: How Bentley plans reduced return to workFace masks and a factory redesign: How Bentley plans reduced return to work
Raindrops are seen on the bonnet of a Bentley car outside their factory in Crewe

LONDON (Reuters) – Bentley will make wearing face masks compulsory at its British car factory and has introduced a two-metre distance between workers which will result in output halving over the first couple of weeks of production, its boss told Reuters.

The Volkswagen-owned brand’s Crewe site in north-western England is due to reopen on May 11, seven weeks since it shut due to the coronavirus outbreak, making it one of the first automakers to resume production in Britain.

The company is implementing around 250 additional measures, including temperature checks and one-way systems, alongside leaving a gap between each vehicle on the production line to maintain a safer distance, leading to an initial 50% cut in output.

“On the line, (there will be) massive change in the first few weeks,” Chief Executive Adrian Hallmark told Reuters.

“We think it will take us almost into summer to get back to anything like full production as long as everything stays stable until then.”

In China, which accounted for just under a fifth of sales last year, Hallmark said there had been a rebound in demand this month.

“In the second week of April we took more orders than the month of January or February,” he said.

“The question is will that continue, will there be a second wave but more importantly, will the European and U.S. markets recover as fast as the China market has?”

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Kate Holton)