The announced closure comes after a second employee stationed at the center tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, officials said in a statement. The center, where an estimated 8,000 people work, is expected to remain closed until April 13.
"Certain limited and critical operations will continue as we continue to implement previously planned worker safety enhancements and for other critical functions," according to the statement. "Workers who were sent home during their shift will be paid for a full day of work."
The Daikin plant is considered "essential" under federal guidelines because of its work in the infrastructure sector and thus is not required to close, according to the statement. The center was temporarily closed so it could be sanitized after the first case was confirmed, officials said.
During the closure, Daikin officials said they plan to make adjustments to optimize manufacturing operations while the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing. When the facility reopens, new protocols will include staggered start times, structural changes to maximize social distancing, the provision of masks for all employees who want them and temperature checks for all employees, according to the release. The company had already implemented other changes, such as increased use of hand sanitizer, enhanced cleaning and changes to dining and break areas.
"We believe the short duration of this closure will minimize financial challenges for those employees who will be taking unpaid time off during the closure," officials said in the statement. "No current company employee will lose their job during this temporary closure."
Daikin is a global leader in manufacturing heating and air conditioning systems. The Waller plant, which opened in 2017, housing manufacturing, engineering, logistics, marketing and sales operations for Daikin as well as for its subsidiary, Goodman Manufacturing.