California county could greenlight Tesla factory reopening… even though Elon Musk has already launched production
Tesla could be legally cleared to scale up operations at its car factory in Fremont, California as soon as next week. CEO Elon Musk has already defied local authorities by bringing the plant back online without their permission.
The Alameda County Public Health Department announced that the embattled factory can start making vehicles Monday if it adopts additional safety recommendations. The updates will be implemented together with the prevention measures the company submitted earlier this week.
According to the statement, local police will help “to verify Tesla is adhering to physical distancing” as well as other precautionary measures.
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The news comes shortly after US President Donald Trump backed the tech entrepreneur in the fight to reopen the facility in Fremont. “California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!” he tweeted.
Official permission for the car maker to relaunch operations could end the tense standoff between Musk and the authorities in Alameda County. On Monday, the billionaire, who has been at the helm of the lockdown resistance, said he wants to immediately restart production “against Alameda County rules.”
In an email to workers seen by Bloomberg, Musk said it’s “so cool seeing the factory come back to life.” The plant may end up working for nearly one week without official permission. It wasn’t clear from Wednesday’s press release whether Tesla or its CEO will face any consequences for reopening in defiance of county orders.
The facility has been shut down since mid-March under measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Musk said that the reopening had been greenlighted on the state level, but “illegally” overridden by “an unelected county official.” However, Governor Gavin Newsom has repeatedly said that even though businesses across the state were allowed to reopen, local governments can be more restrictive, meaning that counties can keep their stay-at-home orders in place.
Tesla even filed a lawsuit against Alameda County, asking the court to declare the local ban on its operations “void and unenforceable,” and arguing that the factory has been part of the state’s “critical infrastructure.” The billionaire also threatened to move the plant from California, where Tesla has enjoyed tax breaks and rising sales, to Texas or Nevada.
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