Tesla’s factory in California can reopen next week if certain conditions are met, county officials said late Tuesday.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk reopened the factory on Monday, defying local officials who refused to let work resume.
In the new statement, Alameda County officials said they received Tesla’s plan for changes required due to the COVID-19 pandemic and responded to the company with additional safety recommendations.
If Tesla incorporates the recommendations, “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,” the statement read.
Tesla publicly released a 38-page plan (pdf) that includes guidelines for personal protective equipment, employee screening, and increased cleaning.
California is under lockdown from executive orders issued by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. The orders are aimed at slowing the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
Manufacturers were allowed to reopen across the state Sunday, per a new order from Newsom. But Alameda County officials blocked the reopening.
“An unelected county official illegally overrode” Newsom’s order, Musk said on social media. “Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!”
Scott Haggerty, the Alameda County supervisor for an area that includes Tesla’s Fremont plant, told The New York Times that health officials wanted Tesla to reopen no sooner than May 18. After he was informed that Musk was thinking about filing a lawsuit against him, Haggarty said, negotiations slowed down.
“He could have spent time enjoying his new baby and given me and my staff a couple more days and his plant would have been open on May 18,” Haggarty said. “Am I somewhat sympathetic with Tesla? Yes I am. Am I sympathetic to the way Musk is treating people? No.”
Tesla filed a lawsuit on May 9 asking for a judge to block the county’s stay-at-home order. He’s been in discussions with Texas officials about potentially moving production to the Lone Star state.
Fremont Mayor Lily Mei said in a statement that she supported manufacturing companies reopening if they followed social distancing practices.
“The City encourages the County to engage with our local businesses to come up with acceptable guidelines for re-opening our local economy,” she said.
Newsom told reporters Monday he wasn’t aware that Tesla had reopened.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that officials notified Tesla that “they can only maintain Minimum Basic Operations until we have an approved plan that can be implemented in accordance with the local public health Order.”
Musk, who hasn’t yet responded to the county’s Tuesday statement, said in an email to employees that he appreciated them bringing the factory “back to life.”
“An honest day’s work spent building products or providing services of use to others is extremely honorable. I have vastly more respect for someone who takes pride in doing a good job, whatever the profession, than some rich or famous person who does nothing useful,” he wrote.