Wires

UPDATE 2-CNH Industrial suspends four plants in Italy to fight virus

Giulio Piovaccari

* Three of the four plants set to reopen next week

* Measures include allowing more space between workers

* Source says no client impact as stocks are ample (Updates with detail, context)

MILAN, March 12 (Reuters) - CNH Industrial on Thursday said it was halting operations at four plants to allow for measures such as deep cleaning, becoming the latest major Italian group to take action against the coronavirus.

Rome added restrictions on Wednesday to a lockdown imposed to fight the coronavirus, ordering all unnecessary services, including bars and restaurants, to close after the highest daily increase in deaths since the first cases found in Italy at the end of January.

CNH Industrial, the maker of farm machinery, Iveco commercial vehicles, construction equipment and powertrains, has suspended operations at four of its plants in Italy to implement actions to fight the outbreak, a spokesman said on Thursday, asking not to be named.

Measures include sanitisation of work and rest areas and adjustments to some production lines to allow more space between workers, he said.

Affected plants, with a total of more than 4,000 workers, are located in Brescia, Suzzara, Piacenza and San Mauro Torinese, all in northern Italy. They produce vans, trucks, fire-fighting and military vehicles as well as machines for use in construction.

The plants in Brescia and Suzzara are scheduled to reopen on Monday and the one in Piacenza in a week's time, the spokesman said on Thursday.

A reopening date for the San Mauro plant, near Turin, has not been set as suspected cases of the coronavirus had emerged among its workers, the spokesman said.

Already, the group has plans to close permanently the factory, which produces Case excavators, by the end of June and transform the site into a logistics hub.

The spokesman said CNH was evaluating whether production rates would be affected once the four suspended facilities resumed operations, but said it was likely that some departments would see an impact.

A source close to the matter, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said CNH did not expect temporary closures to affect deliveries to clients, as the group had ample stocks and excess capacity in Europe.

CNH is controlled by Exor, the holding group of Italy's influential Agnelli family.

Automaker Fiat Chrysler, also controlled by Exor, on Wednesday said it was temporarily halting operations at some of its Italian factories and would reduce production because of the coronavirus. (Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; editing by Stephen Jewkes, Edmund Blair and Barbara Lewis)