Tyre manufacturing giant Pirelli has shut down its Carlisle factory in a bid to protect its 900-strong workforce from coronavirus.

The company confirmed the indefinite closure of the Dalston Road plant – along with its factory in Burton-on-Trent – from today (Monday, March 23) in a statement issued on Friday evening.

Pirelli said the move was to protect the health and safety of its employees and a response to a “significant slowdown of demand in the automotive sector”.

The company had not confirmed if staff were to take a pay cut or not during the closure at the time of writing.

The Carlisle factory is the Italian company’s main UK site producing tyres for premium and prestige cars. It is one of Cumbria's largest employers.

“Pirelli will closely monitor the situation surrounding Covid-19 and its impact on the market to establish when production at the plants can recommence,” the company said.

“Pirelli, giving priority to the health of its employees, is constantly monitoring the evolution of the situation and is ready to restart operations at the earliest opportunity.

“Smart working and social distancing measures are already in place with Pirelli employees, and commercial, logistic and other customer facing functions continue to serve our clients whilst practicing the measures advised by the Government and Chief Medical Officer.”

The company said no visitors would be allowed on the site during the closure.

Supply to clients will continue by drawing on the available stock, it added.

Last year Prince Charles helped mark the factory’s 50th anniversary with a visit hosted by Pirelli chief executive Marco Tronchetti Provera.

In a further boost it secured planning permission for a 2,510 square metre expansion at the site, creating new 20 jobs.