Elon Musk defies coronavirus lockdown and reopens Tesla plant

Elon Musk defies coronavirus lockdown and reopens Tesla plant in California after suing local officials for ordering it to remain closed until June

  • Employees were seen reporting to the Tesla facility in Fremont early Monday  
  • Tesla filed a lawsuit against Alameda County on Saturday after the Fremont plant was shuttered amid the statewide lockdown on March 23
  • The suit claims county officials ignored Gov Gavin Newsom’s allowances for ’16 crucial infrastructure industries,’ including transportation, to continue operating
  • Musk announced the legal action on Twitter, threatening to move the automaker’s headquarters to another state
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Elon Musk appears to have reopened a Tesla plant in defiance of California’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions two days after the automaker sued local authorities over the facility’s closure.   

Employees were seen reporting to the Tesla facility in Fremont before sunrise on Monday in footage from local media outlet KPIX.   

Tesla filed a lawsuit against Alameda County on Saturday after the Fremont plant was shuttered amid the statewide lockdown on March 23.  

The suit claims that county officials ignored Gov Gavin Newsom’s allowances for ’16 crucial infrastructure industries,’ including transportation, to continue operating. 

Elon Musk appears to have reopened a Tesla plant in Fremont, California, in defiance of local coronavirus lockdown restrictions (file photo)

Musk announced Tesla’s legal action against Alameda County in a Twitter thread on Saturday 

Musk announced the legal action on Twitter, threatening to move the automaker’s headquarters to another state.

‘Frankly, this is the final straw,’ the billionaire tweeted. ‘Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.

‘If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependen [sic] on how Tesla is treated in the future.’

In a blog post on Saturday, Tesla said the county’s position left it no choice but to take legal action to ensure the company and its employees can go back to work.

The company said it had worked out a thorough return-to-work plan that includes online video training for personnel, work zone partition areas, temperature screening, requirements to wear protective equipment and rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

The company said it had informed health authorities in Alameda County about its restart plans, but claimed the acting official did not return calls or emails.

Tesla’s lawsuit called the continued restrictions a ‘power-grab’ by the county since California’s governor had said on Thursday that manufacturers in the state would be allowed to reopen.

The company said Alameda was going against the federal and California constitutions, as well as defying the governor’s order, the lawsuit said.

Alameda County is scheduled to remain shut until the end of May, with only essential businesses allowed to reopen. 

The county said it does not consider Tesla an essential business. County officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Alameda County said on Saturday that it has been working with Tesla to develop a safety plan that ‘allows for reopening while protecting the health and well-being of the thousands of employees’ that work at the factory and that it looks forward to coming to an agreement on a safety plan very soon.

 

Fremont Mayor Lily Mei expressed concern about the potential economic implications of continuing the shelter-in-place order without provisions for manufacturers such as Tesla to resume. 

Mei on Saturday urged the county to work with businesses on ‘acceptable guidelines for re-opening’.

On Monday, US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told CNBC the state should do ‘whatever [is] needed’ too allow Tesla to reopen. 

Musk had told employees on Thursday that limited production would restart at Fremont on Friday afternoon.

Tesla last year built nearly half a million vehicles at the Fremont plant and moving the entire production facility would be a massive undertaking.

Dan Ives, a Wedbush analyst, on Saturday estimated it could take the company 12 to 18 months to relocate production.

The threat to relocate the facility comes as Tesla aims to ramp up production at Fremont of its Model Y sport utility vehicle, which it expects to generate record demand and profit margins.

Musk, who sparred with California officials in March over whether Tesla had to halt production at Fremont, had criticized the lockdown and stay-at-home orders, calling them a ‘serious risk’ to US business and ‘unconstitutional’.

Source: Read Full Article