WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co <F.N> on Tuesday reiterated its policy that all visitors to its manufacturing plants must wear a mask but said the White House will ultimately decide if U.S. President Donald Trump will comply during a planned visit.
Trump plans to visit a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on Thursday that is being used to manufacture ventilators. Ford issued a revised statement late on Tuesday that signaled it may allow Trump to violate a policy it spent weeks locking in to allow it to operate its plants safely.
Asked whether he will wear a mask when he visits Ford, Trump said that “where it’s appropriate I would do it.” The decision depends on the situation and if he “standing right next to everybody,” he added.
“Our policy is that everyone wears PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Ford spokeswoman Rachel McCleery said on Tuesday. “The White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination.”
The company’s policy handbook to address the coronavirus pandemic, released May 1, says flatly that face masks must be worn “at all times” at U.S. manufacturing plants by all employees and “all visitors.”
McCleery said the company “shared all of Ford’s safety protocols, including our manufacturing playbook, employee pamphlet and self-assessment survey with the White House ahead of time and in preparation for this trip.”
Last week, Trump toured a mask distribution center in Pennsylvania but did not wear a mask.
The United Auto Workers and the Detroit Three automakers held talks about safety protocols to allow for Monday’s resumption of auto production.
Last month, Vice President Mike Pence wore a mask during a tour of a General Motors plant in Indiana making ventilators, as did GM Chief Executive Mary Barra. But Barra told participants at a roundtable after a tour that they could remove their masks.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Steve Holland Editing by Dan Grebler)