Tesla Reaches Deal With California County To Re-open Factory

The bitter clash between Elon Musk and Alameda County in California, over whether Tesla could re-open its giant Fremont factory, looks to have been settled.

Tesla’s Fremont factory is located in Alameda County in California, near to San Francisco. The county tweeted that it has reviewed Tesla’s Covid-19 prevention and control plan, and given its approval for the factory to re-open “as soon as week.”

However the officials warned that it will be working with Fremont Police Department to verify that Tesla is adhering to physical distancing and the agreed upon health and safety measures.

Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk. Image credit: SpaceX

Tense stand-off

The tension between Elon Musk and health officials at Alameda County began early last week.

Prior to that, Musk had slammed the California lockdown and called it ‘fascist’ and ‘not democratic’, and said that authorities were effectively imprisoning people in their own homes.

Then California Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week he would allow production to resume in factories in some parts of the state that are producing essential goods.

However local municipalities in California have the discretion to have more restrictive rules, which Alameda County chose to do in Fremont, where only essential businesses are allowed to operate.

But Musk decided to press ahead and re-open, and late last week he sent an email to Tesla’s workforce saying the car maker would restart limited production at its Fremont factory, which employs approximately 10,000 people.

But Alameda County did not deem Tesla to be an essential business, and Musk got so angry he filed a lawsuit against the county in a San Francisco federal court.

He also threatened to move the Tesla factory out of California altogether, to Texas or Nevada.

His actions drew a sharp rebuke from one Democratic state politician, Lorena S Gonzalez from San Diego, who tweeted “F*ck Elon Musk.”

Then on Monday this week Musk restarted production at the factory, and dared authorities to arrest him over the matter.

His clash with the local authorities also gained the backing of President Donald Trump, who on Tuesday urged that Tesla be allowed to reopen its electric vehicle assembly plant.

Agreement reached

Into this health officials at Alameda County tweeted that an agreement had been reached.

“We reviewed the plan and held productive discussions today with Tesla’s representatives about their safety and prevention plans, including some additional safety recommendations,” it tweeted.

“If Tesla’s Prevention and Control Plan includes these updates, and the public health indicators remain stable or improve, we have agreed that Tesla can begin to augment their Minimum Business Operations this week in preparation for possible reopening as soon as next week,” it said.

But Alameda County warned they would be keeping a close eye on Tesla.

“We will be working with the Fremont Police Department to verify Tesla is adhering to physical distancing and that agreed upon health and safety measures are in place for the safety of their workers as they prepare for full production,” it said.

“Next Monday, May 18th, marks two weeks following the May 4th Order loosening restrictions. Provided that the data show progress with our Covid-19 indicators during this two week period, we would allow additional approved activities for local businesses, including Tesla, as previously planned,” it concluded.

The county said it had no further comment nor would be taking any requests for interviews.

Tesla did not immediately comment on the agreement, but around the same time the county issued its statement, Musk tweeted: “Life should be lived.”

Tesla it should be remembered had resisted shutdown orders in California as long as it could, only shutting down its Fremont factory on 18 March when ordered to do so.

It had also furloughed employees in early April.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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