It was perhaps only a matter of time before Harley-Davidson would have to halt the production lines at its US factories, but that time is now, and it comes after the Bar & Shield brand discovered yesterday that a worker tested positive for COVID-19.
The employee worked at the Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations facility, and tested positive Wednesday afternoon for the coronavirus. As a result, Harley-Davidson is halting production at this factory, as well as suspending operations at its York and Tomahawk facilities.
Harley-Davidson says that it will close these factories until March 29th, in order to help “support employee health and further bolster coronavirus containment efforts.”
“We recognize the unprecedented nature of this global crisis. In order to best support our employees and following the social distancing guidance issued by public health authorities, we are temporarily suspending the majority of production at our U.S. manufacturing facilities,” said Jochen Zeitz, acting CEO and President of Harley-Davidson. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take necessary steps to prioritize employee health and safety.”
Though the American brand hopes to restart its operations next month (as do many brands in the motorcycle industry), the prevailing perspective is “wait and see” as cases of coronavirus continue to spike in the United States, and many restart dates seem unrealistic to that fact.
Until it reopens its factories though, Harley-Davidson says that the majority of its production employees in the United States will be on temporary layoff, though with medical benefits remaining.
The Bar & Shield brand says that it will use the factory closure time to deep-clean and disinfect its facilities for when workers return. Lastly, all Harley-Davidson sponsored events have been cancelled until mid-April.
It’s not clear what this means for Harley-Davidson’s 2020 outlook, but at the time of this writing, the company’s stock is down 9.23% on the NYSE.