Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) is to suspend production at its plants in Germany and Poland in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The shutdown will begin on Thursday 19 March and is initially set to last for 10 days.

The facilities affected are those in Hannover, Germany, which makes the Transporter T6.1 medium van, Amarok pick-up and eCrafter electric large van, Poznan in Poland, where the Caddy light van and T6.1 are assembled and Wrzesnia in Poland, which builds the Crafter.

VWCV says it is stopping production because of the uncertain sales environment for light commercial vehicles caused by the spread of the virus, the affect on supply chains and to protect the health of employees.

Thomas Sedran, chairman of the VWCV brand’s Board of Management, said: “The coronavirus pandemic is naturally having an impact on our entire business: on supply chains, on our production operation, on sales and on our distribution and service partners. In close consultation with our works councils and within the group network, we have therefore decided at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles to shut down production at all three sites.

“This is the only right decision to take, not least so as not to expose our workers to any unnecessary health risk.”

The suspension affects around 24,000 staff in Germany and Poland.