The Bath Iron Works crane looms over the south end of the city in this May 22, 2019, file photo.

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The president of Bath Iron Works said Monday the shipyard will remain open unless the Navy or Defense Department instructs it to close.

Dirk Lesko said in a letter in response to a request from more than 70 Maine lawmakers that the company consider closing temporarily to protect workers from the spread of the new coronavirus.

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Lesko said the Department of Defense would have to instruct the shipyard to close. Up to now, the Navy has directed the company to maintain normal work hours.

The letter from Maine lawmakers asserts that the Navy and Defense Department don’t have the final say over a temporary shutdown, and requested additional information about how the company is protecting workers.

BIW said workers have been instructed to follow proper U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention personal protection guidelines. The company says it allows employees to take paid time off if they feel it is necessary to protect themselves and their families.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.