Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption The plant in Oxford employs 4,500 people and had been producing 5,000 cars a week

The manufacturing of Minis at a car plant in Oxford is expected to resume in May.

Production at the factory in Cowley was halted on 23 March because of the "rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic".

But a BMW Group spokesman said as part of a "staggered approach" to ramping up "global production" it expects work to restart on 18 May.

Most employees are currently furloughed but are being paid their base salaries.

The spokesman for Plant Oxford told the BBC that in the coming weeks plants worldwide would resume series production.

He said: "The plant ramp-ups will be oriented towards the market. The exact dates for the restart are geared towards development in the markets and customer demand.

"There are some first positive tendencies, but uncertainties continue to exist in many markets, for example due to the repeated changes in the opening regulations for retailers.

"For us specifically it means that Oxford is expected to gradually resume production starting on 18 May 2020 at the earliest."

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The plant in the city employs 4,500 people and produces 5,000 cars a week.

BMW took over the plant in 2001, but cars have been built on the site since 1913.

Last year a convoy of 60 Minis weaved through Oxford to mark the vehicle's 60th anniversary.