Kuka robots work on Tesla Model X at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.
Mason Trinca | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Tesla CEO Elon Musk wanted to restart production at the US auto plant in Fremont, California on Friday afternoon after weeks of “minimal base operations” required after Covid-19 health orders. But local authorities are now saying the company is not allowed to reopen.
Erica Pan, acting health chief of the Alameda County Department of Public Health, said on Friday in an online town hall meeting that while California had loosened Covid-19 restrictions on l State, legally, “If there are local ordinances, which more stringent prevails.”
She added that at the moment, the county of Alameda – where the Fremont car factory is located – is “still a little more strict” than the state in its approach to protecting public health in the context of an epidemic of the new coronavirus.
“We did not give the green light. We worked with them to review some of their security plans. But no, we did not say it was appropriate to go ahead.” Pan said when asked about Tesla in particular.
Tesla resisted and debated local authorities when they first implemented the Covid-19 restrictions in March. The company ceased its minimum basic activities on March 24. Tesla recalled some shift workers there later in April, but again canceled plans to deal with health orders.
Right after that, Musk slammed the health orders, calling them “fascists,” in a vow to call for gains.
Alameda County has an on-site shelter order in effect until May 31, according to the county public health department website. Pan said it expected to know more in a week or two if the county could allow manufacturers, including Tesla, to reopen their factories.
An information officer from the Alameda County Public Health Department provided more details in a statement:
“We have informed Tesla of all the conditions that must exist for the gradual implementation of the safe reopening of various sectors of the economy and the community.” All businesses in the county must comply with the health official’s May 4 order and if a business does not meet the limited criteria set out in this reopening order, then they do not comply.
“Tesla has been advised that it does not meet these criteria and should not reopen. We welcome Tesla’s proactive work on a reopening plan so that once they meet the reopening criteria, they can do it in a way that protects their employees and the community at large. “
A spokesman for the Fremont Police Department said he had not been in contact with Tesla regarding a possible violation.
“Companies are not required to contact the police regarding specific plans or business operations, so we have not been in contact with Tesla.” She added: “Our legal counsel is also reaching out to get more clarity on some of the terms in the most recent FAQ document,” from the county.
CNBC contacted Tesla and the company’s human resources manager, Valerie Workman, to ask him how plans for US employees and vehicle production could now change. They were not immediately available for comment.