Governor Gavin Newsom of California
Rich Pedroncelli | AP
California Governor Gavin Newsom was surprised Monday when a reporter informed him that Tesla had already reopened its factory in Fremont to resume production.
“As just mentioned, I need details about this. From what I understand, when I got on the podium today, it was not. I is trying to monitor hundreds of thousands of businesses throughout the state of California, “The governor said at a press conference on Monday.
As CNBC previously reported, production workers were set aside for shifts this week starting Sunday at Tesla. Monday, local TV channels showed employee cars streaming in company car parks.
Tesla contacted employees Friday to schedule the shifts. Over the weekend, Elon Musk went on Twitter to announce that Tesla is taking legal action against Alameda County, and will withdraw Tesla’s headquarters and possibly all of its state operations in response to Covid-19 health orders.
Musk had previously called local shelter orders and other health orders affecting Tesla “fascist”. After Newsom’s press conference, Musk tweeted that “Tesla restarts production today against Alameda County rules. I will be online with everyone. If someone is arrested, I ask that it be just me.”
Three Fremont employees told CNBC they had to return to work this week, but only wanted it if the plant was found to be safe in the middle of the pandemic. The employees requested that their names not be released as they were not authorized by the company to conduct press interviews.
One of them said that he had started looking for another job, fearing that he would not be able to comply with the security protocols, including social distancing and other measures, recommended to protect himself from Covid-19 when mounting cars in Fremont. Failure to comply with the protocols could result in their illness or dismissal, followed by their disentitlement from unemployment, they said.
At the factory, employees often perform physically tiring tasks nearby while touching the same equipment. They don’t have much time to take time off to wash their hands, all employees have noted, and the factory bathrooms are not always in perfect shape.
CNBC asked local authorities how they would react to the reopening of the Tesla plant against county health ordinances and the recommendations of Acting Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan.
A spokesperson for the office of Fremont District Supervisor in Alameda County, Shawn Wilson, wrote in an email response: “The ordinance states that your application question is left to the marketing agency. local police, so your question should be directed to the Fremont Police Department. If Tesla violates the order, it would be the decision of the Fremont Police Department to apply or not to apply. “The Fremont Police Department does did not immediately respond to a request for comment.