Sunderland Nissan plant could face shutdown measures if it was linked with virus spike, say council chiefs

City bosses would consider temporarily shutting down Nissan or other major employers if they were linked back to a coronavirus outbreak.

Nissan plant
Nissan plant

As the government begins to roll back its COVID-19 lockdown measures fears have focussed on the potential for a ‘second spike’ in infections as families return to school and workplaces.

And while councils currently only have limited powers to try and enforce ‘local lockdowns’, leaders have insisted they will use them if they prove the best way of keeping the virus at bay.

“If there was an outbreak impacting the workforce that would be a public health decision we would have to support,” said Graeme Miller, the leader of Sunderland City Council.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“I’m sure the conversation with Nissan would be long and hard, but it doesn’t matter the business, if there is a second spike we would have to look at it, regardless of who it was.

“I would rather not have to do that, Nissan has got enough on its plate with Brexit.

“But sometimes you have to make tough decisions and that would be a tough decision.”

Advertisement

Hide Ad

Organisations such as Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive are likely to assist councils, with shutdowns more likely to be a last resort in the most serious cases, rather than an initial measure.

But even in the most severe cases current rules mean this could only be individual institutions, not entire areas.

More pressing for Coun Miller however is the government’s ‘pipe dream’ test, track and trace programme for mapping new outbreaks.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

Ministers had promised a ‘world-beating’ assessment system would be in place from June 1 – but bosses didn’t even know how cash they would be given towards start-up costs until 10 days later.

But Coun Miller is confident most families will continue to follow official advice and do their part to keep infection rates down.

He said: “We’re already asking a great deal of the common sense of the general public.

“They have been fantastic over the past weeks and in the main they have known the seriousness of the public health crisis and have kept people safe.”

Advertisement

Hide Ad

Nissan was contacted for comment.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you

How to subscribe to the print edition

Advertisement

Hide Ad

It’s easy to subscribe to your local newspaper. We have arranged a special 20 per cent off subscription offer for people to take advantage of. Visit www.localsubsplus.co.uk, choose the newspaper title, the type of subscription and enter your details.