Coronavirus: Musk defies orders to reopen Tesla plant in California

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Elon Musk pointing his finger

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Tesla has reopened its only electric car plant in the United States in California, despite local orders against manufacturing.

On Monday, the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, tweeted that production has restarted and that he will be “in line with everyone”.

US states and local governments are trying to determine the best way to open after the lockout.

Musk previously promised to move the company’s headquarters outside of California if the plant was not allowed to reopen.

While the state relaxed restrictions to allow manufacturing, Alameda County, where the Fremont plant is located, has not done so. The city is about an hour south of San Francisco.

Elon Musk said on Saturday that Tesla had filed a lawsuit against the county asking a court to withdraw the order preventing the automaker from resuming production.

Rather than waiting for a decision, Musk announced on Twitter Monday that the plant would reopen.

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The local police said it was aware of the situation, but would act at the discretion of the county health authorities.

The Alameda County public health department said on Monday that it was “actively communicating” with Tesla about the plans to reopen and that it was taking the same approach it had taken with other companies that had violated foreclosure orders.

In an email seen by Reuters, Tesla also allegedly told workers that the reopening decision was in accordance with California guidelines.

Musk wrote on Twitter that Tesla had been “singled out”, saying that other American automakers were allowed to restart production.

Photos from Tesla parking on Monday showed it was almost full. The plant has been closed to all essential operations, but limited since March 26.

Production outside California

Tesla opened a factory in Shanghai last year and is building a factory outside of Berlin, but Fremont is home to Tesla’s headquarters and main manufacturing site.

Musk said on Saturday that he would move the US plant to another state if necessary to restart production.

Officials from Texas, Utah, Georgia and Nevada, where Tesla already has a battery assembly plant, contacted Twitter to offer incentives to move their jurisdictions.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that California “should give priority” to the reopening of Tesla because it is one of the largest manufacturing employers in the state.

State Governor Gavin Newsom said he spoke to Musk last week and his concerns were part of the reason California decided to phase out manufacturing because it was slowly lifting locking measures.

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