Volvo reopens some plants, some countries ease restrictions

Shops with a surface area of up to 800 square meters (8,600 square feet) are being allowed to reopen, along with auto showrooms

Workers resume duties at the Volvo Cars factory, in Torslanda, Gothenburg, Sweden, Friday, April 17, 2020. (Adam Ihse/TT News Agency via AP)

The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Monday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.

The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that Canada and Mexico have each agreed to extend restrictions on non-essential travel across their shared borders with the U.S. for an additional 30 days. The restrictions originally began on March 21. The government says non-essential travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.

New Zealand will remain in a strict lockdown for another week before easing the rules a little to allow some parts of the economy to reopen. Starting next week, workers at some businesses such as construction and manufacturing will be able to resume their jobs.

Denmark took another step toward reopening society when hair salons, dentists, physiotherapists, tattoo parlors and driving schools, among others, were allowed to reopen Monday.

Some shops are reopening in much of Germany as Europe’s biggest economy takes its first step toward restarting public life after a four-week shutdown.

Shops with a surface area of up to 800 square meters (8,600 square feet) are being allowed to reopen Monday, along with auto showrooms, bike shops and bookshops of any size, under an agreement reached last week between the federal and state governments.


Dutch health care equipment maker Philips says orders at its unit that makes machines such as ventilators and patient monitors jumped 23% in the first quarter. However, the company’s net profit was hit hard as demand for other items, like personal health care products, slumped.


Sales of new automobiles in the U.S. could fall to levels not seen since the financial crisis in 2009, according to ALG, which tracks auto sales and resale values.

ALG’s worst-case scenario has total light vehicle sales falling to 11.3 million this year, a level not seen since automakers sold only 10.4 million new vehicles in 2009. The worst-case or “cautious” scenario from ALG is nearly 6 million vehicles below sales in 2019.

Even ALG’s optimistic outlook pegs sales at 13.1 million, with its “mixed” forecast at 12.6 million. U.S. auto sales tumbled almost 40% in March, even though many state stay-home orders didn’t take place until late in the month.

Volvo Cars is restarting production at its suburban Goteborg plant in Sweden on Monday after talks with trade unions.

The Swedish car maker had in recent weeks reviewed every single working station in the Torslanda plant, near Goteborg, “from a health and safety perspective,” adding that when “social distancing is not possible, other protective measures have been put in place.”

Volvo Cars also plans to reopen a plant in Ghent, Belgium, on Monday but “at reduced production output.” Its South Carolina plant is anticipated to open May 11.

United Airlines recorded a $2.1 billion loss in pretax income during the first quarter as revenue tumbled in March during the pandemic. Excluding items such as write-downs connected to a loan and investment in Brazilian carrier Azul, the pretax loss was just over $1 billion. Revenue fell 17% to $8 billion, with daily revenue dropping $100 million a day in the second half of March. United cut its schedule 80% in April and 90% in May. It got $5 billion in cash and loans from the government and on Friday applied for up to $4.5 billion in additional federal loans — both under last month’s $2.2 trillion virus-relief measure.

Four Danish and Swedish subsidiaries with low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle filed for bankruptcy Monday. The carrier said the move doesn’t affect the company in Norway, nor about 700 pilots and 1,300 cabin crew based France and Italy.

Some 1,571 pilots and 3,134 cabin crew in the two Scandinavian countries are employed in subsidiaries of the Norwegian group. Three of the subsidiaries are based in Denmark while the fourth is in Sweden.


Some passengers from a luxury cruise ship that traveled the globe for 15 weeks while the new coronavirus spread on land have started to disembark in northeastern Spain.

Monday’s port-of-call in Barcelona marks the beginning of the end of the around-the-globe cruise of the Costa Deliziosa, whose owner Costa Crociere, an Italian company, says there’s no COVID-19 cases on board. Hundreds of the boat’s 1,831 passengers were expected to get off the boat in Spain and the rest were expected to do so at the last stop, in Genoa, Italy.

The Deliziosa has been virtually a floating virus-free bubble, allowing passengers to use the ship’s facilities and entertainments. The ship set sail from Venice in early January and stopped making ports of call after leaving western Australia last month except for technical refueling stops.


Stocks are mixed in midday trading after Wall Street trimmed its sharp losses from earlier in the morning following another collapse in oil prices.


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