Elon Musk restarts Tesla factory in defiance of county orders

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Monday that the company’s factory in Fremont, California is open and has restarted production despite a stay-at-home order issued by Alameda County.

Musk said in tweet Monday afternoon that he will “be on the line,” a reference to the assembly line at the factory where Tesla makes the Model X, Model S, Model 3 and Model Y. He added “if anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Musk’s move follows days of public venting on Twitter as well as a lawsuit — efforts that are all aimed at pressuring Alameda County officials to allow the company to reopen its factory.

Officials at the county, the city of Fremont, and Fremont Police Department, which has jurisdiction on this, are continuing to negotiate with Tesla, Sgt. Ray Kelly, public information officer with Alameda County Sheriff’s Department told TechCrunch.

Tesla and Elon Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

Tesla filed a lawsuit Saturday against Alameda County seeking injunctive relief, an effort to invalidate orders that have prevented the automaker from reopening. Later that evening, Tesla issued a back to work plan, a 37-page document that outlines how it intends to restart production while keeping employees safe and preventing the potential spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Tesla had planned to bring back about 30% of its factory workers Friday as part of its reopening plan, after California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued new guidance that would allow manufacturers to resume operations. However, the governor’s guidance included a warning that local governments could keep more restrictive rules in place. Alameda County, along with several other Bay Area counties and cities, last week extended the stay-at-home orders through the end of May. The orders were revised and did ease some of the restrictions. However, it did not lift the order for manufacturing.

On Monday, Newsom issued support for Tesla and Musk during his daily COVID-19 briefing, saying that he believes the issue between Alameda County and the company will be resolved in the next few days.

“I have long been a strong advocate and supporter early adopter, the technology, I have not only known that company, but I’ve known its founder for many, many years,” Newsom said. “I have great reverence for their technology for their innovative spirit, for their leadership, and I have great expectations that we can work through at the county level issue with this particular county and this company in the next number of days.”