LONDON -- Stellantis may join Jaguar Land Rover in taking part in a British government test program to keep production lines operating amid the country’s surging COVID-19 pandemic.
Stellantis said on Monday it will temporarily halt a shift at its Vauxhall van factory in Luton, England, due to the large number of workers forced to isolate after coming into contact with people infected with the coronavirus.
A Stellantis spokesman said the automaker is "considering" joining the UK’s contact testing pilot program in a bid to restore the shift at Luton.
The factory builds Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro, Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch midsize vans and has been working at maximum capacity to fulfill demand for delivery vehicles amid the Internet shopping boom.
Nissan's plant in Sunderland, the UK’s largest, has also lost production due to staff shortages. The automaker did not respond to questions asking if it would seek to join the testing program.
Jaguar Land Rover is part of a British government pilot program that allows workers who receive COVID alerts to take daily lateral flow tests.If the result is negative, the person can continue to work rather than self-isolate.
This has "reduced the number of people we have self-isolating across our manufacturing plants" JLR said in an emailed statement.
JLR also has a mobile vaccination center on site at its Solihull plant.
Industry lobby group, the SMMT, said staff shortages are putting production at risk and undermining the auto sector's recovery.
The British government should make the tracing app less sensitive or bring forward the August 16 target date for exempting fully vaccinated adults from self-isolation, SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said.
Businesses across England are facing disruption caused by the country's NHS tracing app, which 'pings' anyone whom it believes has come into close contact with a person testing positive for COVID. Those people are then asked to quarantine, meaning they cannot work for a 10-day period.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his top finance official, Rishi Sunak, has said they would join the program after they had face-to-face meetings with the health secretary, Sajid Javid, who tested postive for COVID-19. The pair reversed course and went into self-isolation after a public backlash.
The pilot program has been limited to just 20 organizations.
JLR's biggest concern at the moment is the shortage of semiconductors, which has forced to it prioritize higher-margin vehicles and remove some specification.