Some workers returned to the Fremont factory on Wednesday to prepare for the planned reopening of certain production lines by next week, according to a person familiar with factory operations who asked not to be named by fear of reprisals. The individual obtained anonymity in accordance with The Chronicle’s anonymous sources policy.
The person said that only a handful of employees have returned to the plant at the moment to prepare and that additional security measures have been put in place at the plant to protect against transmission of coronaviruses.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokeswoman for the Fremont Police Department, which is responsible for the area that includes the factory, said it was not planned to visit the site after being informed by The Chronicle of reports of partial return to work.
“We are all in some sort of gray area,” department spokesperson Geneva Bosques said in reference to Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement this week that some retail, manufacturing and logistics companies would soon be allowed to operate on a limited basis if they take security measures and local authorities approve.
Bosques acknowledged that under the current Alameda County health order, Tesla cannot operate its manufacturing line, but added that “having a small team of people there (who) maintain social distancing cannot violate the sanitary order ”.
Officers from the Fremont Police Department made two previous visits to the factory in April and observed basic sanitary operations, such as maintenance. Tesla was not cited for the violations, said Bosques.
Tesla had previously openly defied the order to establish a shelter in Alameda County when it was first instituted on March 17, operating for almost a week before sending workers to them. Authorities ruled that the plant was a non-essential undertaking under sanitary conditions.
This order, which has been extended and is still in effect, prohibits “the manufacture or assembly of non-essential products”.
Some Tesla workers learned last weekend in April that they would return to work the following week, but the company canceled the orders.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk strongly criticized the economic restrictions put in place to fight the coronavirus. Musk denounced the home orders as “fascist” in a recent investor call and asked Twitter to request the immediate reopening of the US economy.
Chase DiFeliciantonio is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ChaseDiFelice
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