Musk restarts Tesla factory during lockdown, says 'ready for arrest'
Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, has re-opened the electric carmaker's factory in California's Alameda County, despite local orders to keep the 'non-essential' business closed. The billionaire was pushing to restart production at the plant since last week and has now confirmed that he is moving against the county to do that, even if it means getting arrested. Here's more about it.
Late on May 11, Musk took to Twitter to announce that he is opening the Tesla plant in Fremont in violation of Alameda County's lockdown restrictions. "Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules," Musk tweeted out, noting that "I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me."
The production at the Tesla plant was halted on March 23 in compliance with the shelter-in-place order enforced to contain COVID-19 across California. Last week, the government of state eased some of those restrictions, making room for businesses to operate. Musk hoped to restart the factory, but then, Alameda County said it is extending lockdown in the region until the end of May.
Given that the county's order allowed all except 'non-essential businesses' like Tesla to operate, Musk lashed out at local authorities. He said the company will "move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately" and "if we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future."
Tesla has also filed a lawsuit against the Alameda County to get the restriction removed and plant re-opened. In the case, the company alleged the extended restriction is a "power grab" by the county, especially considering that California's Governor has said manufacturers would be allowed to open. It said the county has defied the Governor's order and is going against federal and California Constitution.
Yes, California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode. Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2020
On Monday, California's Governor Gavin Newsom said the state has had "very constructive conversations" with the officials at Alameda County and Tesla, and the company might be able to open up 'as early as next week'. But, now, given that the automaker has acted way earlier and without any authorization, it remains to be seen how the Governor's office and the county will respond.
"We learned that the Tesla factory in Fremont had opened beyond Minimum Basic Operations. We have notified Tesla that they can only maintain Minimum Basic Operations until we have an approved [re-opening] plan that can be implemented in accordance with the local public health Order."