Ford’s engine plant in Wales will restart production next week, the car manufacturer has announced.
Its 1,200 strong workforce in Bridgend has been on furlough since 25 March, following the coronavirus pandemic.
There were fears it might not have reopened at all after lockdown, as it is due to shut for good in September.
It comes after staff at Toyota on Deeside returned to work this week under new procedures that implemented social distancing.
Ford also confirmed it intends to restart initial production at its Dagenham engine plant in Essex.
Together with its Valencia factory in Spain, it means all of Ford’s European manufacturing facilities will be back at work.
“As we return to work at our two engine plants in the UK, our key priority is the implementation of Ford’s global standards on social distancing and strengthened health and safety protocols to safeguard the well-being of our workforce,” said Graham Hoare, chairman, Ford of Britain.
The decision follows comments from the Welsh Economy Minister Ken Skates revealing Wales has the highest proportion of businesses applying for the UK government’s furlough scheme.
Mr Skates said 74% of companies in Wales had applied for the scheme, “compared to 67% England, 72% Scotland and 65% in Northern Ireland”.
He said the Job Retention Scheme was essential to enable large parts of the economy to “hibernate” through the crisis.
Ford’s announcement also came as official figures showed the UK economy shrank by 2% in the first three months of 2020, as coronavirus forced the country into lockdown.
The Office for National Statistics said there had been “widespread” declines across the services, manufacturing and construction sectors.