Tesla aims to ramp up limited operations at its Fremont, California facility. The company and its CEO Elon Musk make this decision in direct conflict with an order at home in Alameda County.
Employees received two emails – one from Musk and one from Valerie Workman, the company's human resources manager – saying that the factory would open on Friday. Bloomberg was the first to report the emails. The decision to open was based on new guidelines from Governor Gavin Newsom, who said on Thursday that manufacturers could resume operations.
However, Tesla ignores other parts of Newsom's announcement, particularly that local governments could maintain more restrictive rules. Tesla's Fremont facility is located in Alameda County, which, along with several other counties and cities in the Bay Area, has issued revised home stay orders that will continue through May. These revised orders have relaxed some of the restrictions. However, if Tesla is followed, Tesla may not begin producing its Model S, Model X, Model 3, and now Model Y vehicles until June 1.
Officials in Alameda County could not be reached for comment. However, the county and other surrounding towns and districts of the Bay Area made a joint statement Thursday confirming their order.
It is important that our local communities understand that the regional health regulations that came into force on May 4th are still in effect. These contracts – in the Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties and in the city of Berkeley – ease the building restrictions as well as the outdoor activities and shops. Orders in the Bay Area do not currently allow roadside pickup from non-essential non-outdoor businesses, and this cannot begin on Friday, May 8th.
Later in the statement, officials said, "In our current environment, the more restrictive order takes precedence when a county order deviates from a state order."
Tesla did not respond to requests for comments.
Tesla previously fought with Alameda representatives to comply with COVID-19 regulations. The dispute began on March 16 after Alameda County ordered all nonessential companies, including bars, gyms and restaurants, to be closed due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19.
Tesla kept the Fremont factory open despite the order, claiming that part of the company's business fell under one exception in the county order. Musk emailed employees that the company would continue operating at the Fremont facility. He also told employees that they shouldn't feel obliged to come to work if they "feel a little sick or even uncomfortable".
The Alameda County sheriff disagreed and tweeted on March 17 that Tesla was not "essential". The automaker was still ignoring the sheriff's order and tweet. Workman received another email from Workman saying that the factory was still open for production because it had received "conflicting guidelines from different levels of government." The email informed employees that they should come to work if they wanted to produce, maintain, deliver, or test their electric vehicles.
One week after the order came into effect, Tesla ceased production at the Fremont plant. Basic operations in the factory continued under an agreement with the county. The company announced at the time that it would cease production by May 4, causing it to cut wages for employees between 10% and 30% and holiday workers.
Towards the end of April, the Bay Area districts extended the order of stay at home and triggered a tweet storm from Musk, who criticized the rules and wrote “Free America Now” once.