Tesla Inc "must not reopen" its vehicle factory in the San Francisco Bay area as local lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus remain in effect, the local county health department said on Friday.
The comments came after Tesla CEO Elon Musk told employees Thursday evening that limited production would restart at the factory in Fremont on Friday afternoon.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday afternoon said that manufacturers in the state would be allowed to reopen. But Alameda County, where the factory is located, is scheduled to remain shut until the end of May. In a press conference Monday, Newsom said the state isn’t telling local governments that feel it’s too soon to reopen to modify their orders.
A spokeswoman for the Alameda County Public Health Department in a statement referred to the county's coronavirus lockdown order that only permits essential businesses to reopen.
"Tesla has been informed that they do not meet those criteria and must not reopen," the spokeswoman said.
Earlier on Friday, Erica Pan, a health officer for the county, said the department has had many discussions with the company and recommended that Tesla wait at least another week to monitor infection rates and discuss safe ways to resume production.
Pan, speaking during a virtual townhall with the mayor of the city of Alameda, called Tesla a "very hot topic."
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Vehicle manufacturing operations are not allowed to operate regularly, according to the Alameda County order.
Tesla, in an internal mail seen by Reuters, had said that starting Friday, limited operation would resume at the Fremont factory with 30 percent of normal headcount per shift.