While the United States grapples with the outbreak of COVID-19, electric car maker Tesla Motors reopens its factories defying local public health orders amid the response to the novel Coronavirus. Technology entrepreneur and Tesla Motors' founder Elon Musk took to Twitter to state that the factory is being reopened and if the county wants to take any action, they can arrest him.
Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2020
The carmaker on Saturday filed a suit against the Alameda County, where its Fremont, California factory is located, seeking an injunction against orders to stay closed.
In a statement as quoted by international media, spokeswoman for Alameda County, Neetu Balram said that the county hoped to work with Tesla to avoid any further escalation on the issue. She said that the matter is being addressed "using the same phased approach we use for other businesses which have violated the Order in the past", and hoped that Tesla will likewise comply without further enforcement measures. She further added that the county came to know on Monday that the company has resumed business beyond minimum basic operations.
She said the County administration has asked Tesla to submit a detailed plan about how it would resume operations. The County looks forward to reviewing Tesla's plan and both be on the same page when it comes to protocol and timeline for a safe resumption, she added.
The Alameda County and Tesla have been at loggerheads as states and cities around the United States are experimenting with ways to safely reopen their economies after the virus outbreak dampened businesses and forced tens of millions of Americans out of work.
Health officials in Alameda County, where the Fremont factory is based, said on Friday and Saturday it must remain closed as long as local lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus remain in effect. The county’s order states that violations are punishable by fine, imprisonment or both.
A spokeswoman for the Fremont Police Department on Monday said her office was enforcing the lockdown order at the direction of the health department and had been advised that the county is working with Tesla directly.