Coronavirus: Musk defies orders to reopen Tesla’s California plant

Elon Musk points the finger

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Tesla has reopened its only American electric car plant in California, despite local orders against production.

On Monday, the company’s CEO Elon Musk tweeted that production had resumed and that it would be “in line with everyone else”.

U.S. states and local governments are trying to determine the best way to open up after the blockade.

Musk previously promised to move the company’s headquarters out of California if the factory had not been allowed to reopen.

While the state has eased restrictions to allow production, the county of Alameda, where the Fremont factory is located, has not. The city is about an hour south of San Francisco.

On Saturday, Elon Musk said Tesla had filed a lawsuit against the county by asking a court to remove the order that prevents the automaker from resuming production.

Rather than wait for a ruling, Musk announced on Twitter on Monday that the plant would be reopened.

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The local police department said it was aware of the situation, but that it would act at the discretion of county health officials.

The Alameda County Public Health Department said on Monday it was “actively communicating” with Tesla about the reopening of plans and taking the same approach as with other activities that violated blocking orders.

In an email seen by Reuters, Tesla also reported to workers that the decision to reopen was in line with California guidelines.

Musk wrote on Twitter that Tesla had been “chosen”, saying that other US automakers were allowed to restart production.

The images of the Tesla car park on Monday showed it mostly full. The plant was closed to all essential operations except limited from March 26.

Production outside California

Tesla opened a plant in Shanghai last year and is building another one outside of Berlin, but Fremont is home to Tesla’s headquarters and its main production facility.

On Saturday, Musk said he would move the American factory to another state if necessary to restart production.

Officials from Texas, Utah, Georgia and Nevada, where Tesla already has a battery assembly plant, contacted Twitter offering incentives to move their jurisdictions.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that California “should prioritize” by helping Tesla reopen because he was one of the state’s largest manufacturing employers.

State governor Gavin Newsom said he spoke to Mr Musk last week and that his concerns were part of why California decided to go into production as the blockade measures slowly increased.

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