The firm revealed on Wednesday, June 23, that it had made adjustments to operations at the factory after a number of staff tested positive for the virus, with both patients and anyone who had been in close contact with them obliged to self-isolate.
Now the company has confirmed it has furloughed hundreds of staff and suspended production in some areas of both its production lines.
Nissan says only its late shift is affected and there have been fewer than 50 confirmed cases at the plant, with the vast majority of furloughed staff self-isolating as a precaution in line with Government guidelines on reducing spread of the virus.
The firm has placed varying numbers of staff on furlough over the last 18 months as a result of both direct and indirect effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Almost the entire plant was furloughed for the best part of three months during the first lockdown last year.
Nissan announced in March 2020 that it was suspending production, with the 7,000 workforce placed on the Government’s furlough scheme.
The firm held a pilot scheme at the end of April which saw around 50 staff working on the Powertrain line return to the plant before the rest of the workforce returned in May.
The company had carried out hundreds of hours of preparation to ensure the safe return of employees.
Every operation across the plant was rigorously risk assessed to make sure it was safe, with more than 5,000 processes reviewed to ensure safety at all times.
Staff were also sent home earlier this year when production was hit by a global shortage of electrical semiconductors caused by the pandemic, a problem which has affected production at other UK car plants and electronics manufacturers worldwide.
The Sunderland plant started building the third generation of its best-selling Qashqai earlier this month.
Nissan has invested £400million into the Sunderland plant to support production of the new model, with key investments having included a £52million second extra-large press line and scrap recycling system and 117 new robots for the factory’s Body Shop.