Tesla’s standoff with California’s Alameda County officials has come to an end after the county agreed to let Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, reopen.
Alameda County gave Tesla its blessing on the condition that it maintain “minimum business operations” and implement additional safety recommendations, according to a company statement that was released on Tuesday.
The county said Tesla could possibly re-open as soon as next week, though the company has already begun production despite coronavirus concerns, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
That ignited an ongoing rift between the billionaire and California officials who argue his business operations continue to disregard workers’ safety. Musk had threatened to move his company’s headquarters out of state.
“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,” county health officials said in a written statement.
California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an order easing social distancing restrictions across the state on May 4. The Alameda County health department said it would allow additional approved activities for Tesla and other local businesses before Monday as long as they show progress towards complying with their Covid-19 indicators.
County officials in the San Francisco Bay Area have maintained tight restrictions after a major Covid-19 outbreak there overwhelmed local hospitals.
Musk has railed against California shelter-in-place orders meant to stem the spread of coronavirus, calling the measures “fascist” during a recent Tesla earnings call.
“If somebody wants to stay in their house that’s great, they should be allowed to stay in their house, they should not be compelled to leave, but to say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist,” Musk said. “This is not Democratic. This is not freedom. Give people back their God damn freedom.”
President Donald Trump weighed in on the public spat yesterday, voicing his support for Musk and Tesla reopening. “California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!” the president tweeted.
“Thank you!” Musk replied in a subsequent tweet.
California state assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat from San Diego, has been among the most vocal critics of Musk’s comments recently. On Saturday, she launched an obscenity at Musk on Twitter after the billionaire threatened to move his company’s operations to Texas or Nevada.
“We should be outraged by a billionaire that has gotten so much from its partnership in California, but continues to put workers in unsafe conditions, continues to union bust, continues to wave his finger at California [as if] we’re supposed to allow that and let him throw his temper tantrum,” Gonzalez said Tuesday on CNN.