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Huge Volkswagen auto plant cautiously ramps back up after coronavirus shutdown

Volkswagen reopens headquarters in Germany
Volkswagen reopens headquarters in Germany 01:52

Wolfsburg, Germany — After seeing its plants across Europe and North America shuttered for almost a month and a half amid the coronavirus pandemic, Volkswagen Group is slowly resuming production at its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The world's largest automaker has been burning through about $2.1 billion every week in running costs with its factory floors silent and car dealers shut. This week, 8,000 employees came back to work in Wolfsburg after an extensive reworking of its production lines to allow for social distancing.

CBS News got a look inside the Wolfsburg facility this week to see some of the changes forced by COVID-19.

The size of New York's Central Park and usually staffed by almost 70,000 employees, the plant is initially operating at just 10% to 15% of capacity, with only about 1,400 vehicles expected to roll off the assembly lines this week.

Employees are asked to take their temperatures every morning before coming to work, and several hundred hand-washing facilities have been installed throughout the site.

Walkway diversions have been set up to avoid contact. Red markers on floors act as guides to aid social distancing. Parts are no longer transferred from employee to employee, but are placed in containers, and plastic barriers have been installed to eliminate physical contact when two people work on the same car.

Face masks must be worn in areas where a minimum distance of 5 feet isn't possible, and mobile plexiglass partitions are in use in many areas.

Volkswagen's decision to restart production will be a boost to the wider European auto industry, as some 2,600 suppliers, most of them German, are ramping up their own facilities to provide parts for VW. 

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