Elon Musk braves coronavirus blockade and reopens Tesla plant in California after suing local officials over closure order until June
- Employees reported to the Tesla facility in Fremont in early Monday
- Tesla filed a lawsuit against Alameda County on Saturday after the Fremont plant was closed during state shutdown on March 23
- The trial alleges that provincial officials ignored Gov Gavin Newsom’s allowances for “ 16 critical infrastructure industries, ” including transportation, to continue operating
- Musk announced the legal action on Twitter and threatened to move the automaker’s headquarters to another state
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Elon Musk appears to have reopened a Tesla factory in spite of California’s coronavirus locking restrictions two days after the automaker sued local authorities for closing the facility.
Employees were reported Monday at dawn at the Tesla location in Fremont in images from the local media outlet KPIX.
Tesla filed a lawsuit against Alameda County on Saturday after the Fremont plant was closed during state shutdown on March 23.
The trial alleges that provincial officials ignored Gov Gavin Newsom’s allowances for “16 critical infrastructure industries,” including transportation, to continue operating.
Elon Musk appears to have reopened a Tesla factory in Fremont, California, violating local coronavirus lock restrictions (file photo)
Musk announced Tesla’s legal action against Alameda County on Saturday in a Twitter thread
Musk announced the legal action on Twitter and threatened to move the automaker’s headquarters to another state.
“Frankly, this is the last straw,” the billionaire tweeted. Tesla will now immediately move its headquarters and future programs to Texas / Nevada.
“If we keep Fremont’s production activity at all, it will become dependent [sic] about how Tesla will be treated in the future. ‘
In a blog post on Saturday, Tesla said the county’s position left it with no choice but to take legal action to get the company and its employees back to work.
The company said it had worked out a thorough work resumption plan, including online video training for staff, work zone separation areas, temperature screening, protective gear wear requirements, and rigorous cleaning and disinfection protocols.
The company said it had informed health authorities in Alameda County about its restart plans, but claimed that the acting officer did not answer phone calls or emails.
Tesla’s lawsuit called the ongoing restrictions a “seizure of power” by the province, as the California governor had said on Thursday that manufacturers would be allowed to reopen in the state.
The company said Alameda violated federal and California constitutions and defied the governor’s order, the lawsuit said.
Alameda County remains closed until the end of May, and only essential businesses are allowed to reopen.
The province said it does not consider Tesla to be an essential company. County officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
Alameda County said on Saturday that it has partnered with Tesla to develop a safety plan that “allows reopening while protecting the health and wellbeing of the thousands of workers” working at the plant, and looks forward to reaching an agreement about a security plan very soon.
Fremont Mayor Lily Mei expressed concern about the potential economic impact of continuing the order on the ground without resuming supplies for manufacturers such as Tesla.
May on Saturday urged the province to work with companies on “acceptable guidelines for reopening.”
On Monday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told CNBC that the state should “do whatever it is” [is] necessary ‘to have Tesla reopen.
Musk had told workers on Thursday that limited production would resume in Fremont on Friday afternoon.
Tesla built nearly half a million vehicles at its Fremont plant last year and moving the entire production facility would be a huge undertaking.
Dan Ives, a Wedbush analyst, estimated on Saturday that the company would take 12 to 18 months to move production.
The threat to relocate the facility is because Tesla is aiming to ramp up production in Fremont of its Model Y sports car, which is expected to generate record demand and profit margins.
Musk, who sparred with California officials in March about whether Tesla should shut down production in Fremont, had criticized the blocking and those who stayed home, calling them a “serious risk” to US business and “unconstitutional.”