A MANUFACTURER which was among the first to shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic has resumed production.

Structural steel company REIDsteel halted production at its Christchurch factory and on construction sites at the start of the coronavirus lockdown.

Managing director Simon Boyd said at the time that he could not “in all conscience sit working from home while sending people out to our manufacturing facility and to our construction sites”.

The company said it had since carried out an extensive review of its steel handling and manufacturing procedures. It had resumed production with “strict” safety measures in place.

Around 60 staff are back at the factory, while most office staff – including design and detailing teams – are working from home.

Mr Boyd said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our people, suppliers and contractors remains our first priority.

“We took the immediate decision to send all employees home on March 24 when the lockdown was first announced to stop any potential spread of the virus and allow us to assess ways to resume operations.

“Since then we have been working on plans to re-open the factory/works and our construction sites to allow those who cannot work from home back to work while still respecting the hygiene and social distancing guidelines.

“Following careful consideration of public health guidance, we are confident that we have robust protocols in place to allow production to resume at our manufacturing facility.

“These incorporate the necessary social distancing and safety measures to protect our people while we build towards full productivity to support our clients, partners in the supply chain and the UK economy.

“Although there is some nervousness, which one should expect, the vast majority of people are pleased to be back at work. Everybody feels much more reassured as a result of the lengths we have gone to ensure we have social distancing and hygiene in place.

“With the strict controls that we have I believe our staff are as safe, if not safer, than doing their weekly shop in the supermarket.”

The company said it was working on safety plans with contracting partners to allow construction sites to re-open in early May. It is also working with subcontractors and suppliers to resume operations.