VAUXHALL has confirmed that its Ellesmere Port plant will restart production next month.

The North Road factory, which employs more than 1,000 staff, will welcome back its workforce from August 17.

The site temporarily closed back in March due to the coronavirus outbreak, with workers placed on furlough as a result.

Parent company Groupe PSA had announced that the plant would not resume production until after September 1, but has today confirmed that staff will return earlier than anticipated.

A total of 188 workers from Ellesmere Port are currently assisting the Luton plant on a temporary basis as they respond to significant demand for van production.

Yann Vincent, EVP manufacturing of Groupe PSA, said today: "As industrial activity is driven by commercial activity, we are gradually and safely resuming our industrial activity at Ellesmere Port on 17th August.

"I would particularly like to praise the contribution of the Ellesmere Port employees who have supported the ramp-up of the production of Luton plant with a temporary transfer.

"This is a strong illustration that, together with Unite the Union, we have succeeded to protect both our employees and our operations in the UK in the difficult context of the Covid-19 crisis."

Mark Noble, director of the Ellesmere Port plant, added: "Our strengthened health procedures provide a high level of protection to our employees and this is the first consideration for restarting our manufacturing sites.

"Since the shutdown of the site on 17th March, a reinforced Health & Safety Barrier protocol has been implemented in the plant with the full involvement of Unite the Union.

"This fully complies with the standards set by both Groupe PSA and also the UK Government. This Health & Safety Barrier protocol was validated by a Groupe PSA audit that took place on 24th April 2020, which enables the resumption of production of the Astra on 17th August, in a progressive and safe manner."

Ellesmere Port MP Justin Madders said: "This is great news, I am really pleased that production is going to be starting again.

"The aim now has to be to get a commitment for the next model to be built here and I hope we will have that soon."

In a statement, the carmaker said: "Since the beginning of the Covid-19 health crisis, Groupe PSA’s priority has been to protect its employees and preserve the company's long-term future.

"During its closure, the Ellesmere Port site has remained active and implemented a protocol of strengthened health measures. This protocol, approved by management, has been fully audited in order to assess its implementation.

"Production will now resume at the Ellesmere Port site on 17th August.

"The protocol comprises more than 100 measures covering all the company's activities at industrial, administrative, R&D and commercial level. For example, the protocol – specifically developed for industrial sites – requires daily checking of employees’ temperatures, in addition to their self-monitoring of symptoms.

"The wearing of glasses or goggles on site is also supplemented by a daily individual supply of masks, and respecting safe distances between people.

"Measures include break areas with markings on the floor, keeping doors open (except fire doors) to avoid contact with handles, frequent cleaning of tools and work surfaces, waiting time when exchanging unprepared parts in a Groupe PSA (hand to hand) environment."

Measures implemented include:

• Use wherever possible of individual transport. For carpooling and public transport, provision of masks and predefined filling rule (staggered placement from the back of the bus)

• Temperature check at the entrance to the site, in addition to symptom self-monitoring file

• Individual supply of masks and hydro alcoholic gel

• Wearing glasses/goggles and masks on site

• Respect for a distance between people throughout the site, including rest areas, smoking areas with floor markings

• Keep doors open (except fire doors) to avoid contact with the handles

• Frequent cleaning of tools and work surfaces

• Waiting time during any exchange of parts not prepared in the PSA environment

• Adjustment of rotations between teams' shifts to avoid crossover