BLUE SPRINGS – Since stopping production last month after a team member had tested for the coronavirus, Toyota Mississippi has been running on a skeleton crew of about 200.

While no Corollas were rolling off the line, service parts continued to be made, plus other critical areas of the plant had to be maintained.

However, the rest of the 2,000 team members will return to work May 4.

“We’ve been off for some time for a lot of reasons, but the the safety of our team members is No. 1,” said Toyota Mississippi president Sean Suggs. “When this all started about four weeks ago we didn’t know as much then as we know today …. but in that time we’ve grown and known more about this virus and the impact it has in helping us get ready for the restart.”

The automaker has sanitized the 2 million-square-foot plant from wall to wall with micromisting and other high-tech methods.

CDC guidelines also have been implemented, and six-foot distance requirements will be the norm, from the assembly line to administration to the cafeteria.

“We’re also staying engaged with all of our team members,” Suggs said. “We have a FUSE app at Toyota and we message them every day, encouraging them to follow the CDC guidelines and practicing social distance at home so they’re healthy at home and when they come back to the plant they’re healthy at work, too.”

Team members will have their temperatures taken before entering the plant, and masks and face shields will be distributed as needed.

“It’s going to be a safe environment,” Suggs said. “We’re raring to go; we haven’t built a new Corolla in four weeks and we’re ready to get customers some new Corollas. We’re getting excited about it.”