Tesla has decided not to bother waiting for the outcome of legal action before reopening its Freemont factory. While suing Alameda County in a bid to obtain an injunction against shelter-in-place orders, the company has decided to restart production anyway.
According to local media, the facility’s car park was filling up from the early hours of Monday, and later in the day, CEO Elon Musk Tweeted to confirm, “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules”. He claimed he would be on the production line “with everyone else, and even offered: “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me”.
It turns out, however, that Tesla started making cars again at the weekend, building as many as 200 vehicles - Model Ys and 3s - according to employees who spoke to The Verge. Alameda County responded to the reopening on Monday:
“Today, May 11, we learned that the Tesla factory in Fremont had opened beyond Minimum Basic Operations. We have notified Tesla that they can only maintain Minimum Basic Operations until we have an approved plan that can be implemented in accordance with the local public health Order.”
The statement added that Alameda County was waiting for Tesla to “submit a site-specific plan later today”.
Prior to this development, Tesla had a published a ‘Return to Work Playbook’ which notes a range of new safety measures such the issue of PPE (personal protective equipment) in some cases and an increased cleaning schedule for work areas.
Last Thursday California Governor Gavin Newsom released new pandemic guidance which allows manufacturers to begin operating again, however, he left it up to counties to keep stricter measure in place if they saw fit. This is something Tesla’s local authority Alameda County decided to do, extending a tweaked shelter-in-place order until the end of May.
Elon Musk has downplayed the risks of Covid-19 on Twitter multiple times and has been increasingly critical of lockdown measures. He’s claimed that shelter-in-place orders violate constitutional rights, and dubbed them “fascist” in a recent earnings call.