California’s Alameda County said Tesla Inc. could reopen its lone U.S. plant next week without acknowledging that it’s already been operating for days, offering little clarity on whether the company is currently in violation of local virus-lockdown measures.
CEO Elon Musk made it abundantly clear via Twitter that he has no intention of continuing to abide by a local ban on nonessential activity, which county officials have said includes Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif. Employees at the plant, who declined to be identified citing company policy, say they’ve been recalled to work and have resumed vehicle-assembly operations.
Tesla has roughly 20,000 employees in the San Francisco Bay area and 10,000 at the factory, which makes the Model S, X, 3 and Y. The county warned earlier this week that Tesla appeared to be in violation of its work-stoppage order.
“If the reports we have received are true, Tesla is engaging in work beyond Minimum Basic Operations, and is in violation of the health officer order,” Colleen Chawla, the county Health Care Services Agency director, said in a letter Monday. “We hope that Tesla -- like other businesses who have been notified of noncompliance -- comes into compliance with the order without the need for additional enforcement measures.”
California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, said in an interview on CNBC Wednesday morning that the state is prepared to enforce its stay-at-home rules if needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
County health officers issued an unusual statement late Tuesday after reviewing the company’s latest safety plan. It said Tesla can prepare “for a possible reopening as soon as next week” if it follows some additional safety recommendations, and public health indicators remain stable or improve. The officials said they would work with local police “to verify Tesla is adhering to physical distancing, and agreed-upon health and safety measures are in place for the safety of their workers as they prepare for full production.”