Tesla partner Panasonic will begin shutting down its operations at Gigafactory Nevada in an effort to minimize the spread of the COVID19 coronavirus.
According to an internal email sent to Panasonic employees on Friday, the company will be sending home approximately 3,500 workers who operate out of the Gigafactory in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center for a 14-day period.
Company spokesperson for Panasonic, Alberto Canal, said employees impacted by the temporary suspension would receive full pay and benefits during the shutdown.
“Panasonic is committed to safeguarding the health and well-being of every employee. The Panasonic factory in Sparks, Nevada will begin ramping down operations early next week and will then close for 14 days. Employees impacted by the closure will receive full pay and benefits for the 14-day period. In the meantime, Panasonic has enacted several measures to enhance the cleanliness of the facility, encourage social distancing, and enable simple, safe and effective behaviors. During the 14-day period, the facility will undergo intensive cleaning.”
The decision by Panasonic comes a day after Tesla noted that it would be temporarily shutting down production at its California and New York factory, while maintaining operations in its Nevada facilities.
According to Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro, in speaking with the Reno Gazette, Tesla’s Nevada battery facility can remain open from his perspective, barring further clarification from the governor.
Tesla has had a long-standing partnership with Panasonic in making battery cells for the company’s fleet of electric vehicles and energy storage products out of Gigafactory 1. Tesla produces battery packs as well as the powertrain for Model 3 from unique sections within the massive Sparks, Nevada facility, while Panasonic’s wing is primarily focused on the production of battery cells.
It’s not clear if today’s communication from Panasonic would also affect the thousands of Tesla employees operating out of the same Gigafactory Nevada.