The state of California eased some restrictions allowing businesses and manufacturing to resume this week, but several Bay Area counties issued different orders that allowed limited commerce to open up. Officials in the state say the county orders take precedence over any state guidance.
“Tesla has been informed that they do not meet those criteria and must not reopen,” Balram said. “We welcome Tesla’s proactive work on a reopening plan so that once they fit the criteria to reopen, they can do so in a way that protects their employees and the community at large.”
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It was the second time in less than two months Tesla has defied the county public health order requiring individuals to shelter in place during the covid-19 pandemic with the exception of essential businesses. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk told employees at the time of the original March order that he would personally be reporting to the factory but employees could stay home if they felt uncomfortable.
Musk has called the coronavirus panic “dumb” and downplayed the need for continued shelter-in-place orders. In an expletive-filled rant last week he called the quarantine measures “fascist” and demanded officials restore people’s “freedom,” right after raising the subject of his shuttered factory and the “serious risk” posed by the inability to resume production there.
The county order said businesses could engage in the “minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits” and related matters.
Citing an email to employees, CNBC reported Tesla planned to resume “limited operations” at its factory on Friday bringing back about 30 percent of workers. The factory employs 10,000.
Musk cited Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) eased restrictions on manufacturing, and said he personally would be supervising the lines when he could.
The county will loosen restrictions more slowly, Balram said, because the Bay Area started with more cases than in the rest of the state.
“Restoring all daily activities too soon risks a rapid spike in cases and would jeopardize the relative stability we’ve seen in our health and hospital systems,” she said, adding “we are not out of the woods yet.”