Lockdown blow as Tesla’s Musk told he ‘must not reopen’ US car plant

Tesla “must not reopen” its only US car factory as the coronavirus lockdown remains in force, the local county health department has said.

It will come as a blow to the electric vehicle firm’s boss Elon Musk, who had told employees limited production would restart at the Fremont plant in California.

The state’s governor Gavin Newsom had earlier said manufacturers in the state would be allowed to reopen.

Elon Musk
Image:Elon Musk has been deeply critical of the lockdown and stay-at-home orders

But Alameda County, where the Tesla factory is located, is due to remain shut until the end of May.

A spokeswoman for the county’s public health department said the local coronavirus lockdown order only allowed essential businesses to reopen.

“Tesla has been informed that they do not meet those criteria and must not reopen,” the spokeswoman said.

Mr Musk has been strongly critical of the COVID-19 lockdown and stay-at-home orders, calling them a “serious risk” to US business and branding them “unconstitutional,” arguing they would be overturned by the US Supreme Court if challenged.

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Tesla had planned to restart limited operations on Friday with 30% of normal headcount per shift.

It pointed out limited operations had started at its so-called gigafactories in Nevada and New York, which make battery packs for its vehicles, after securing state approval.

Mr Musk has said employees who feel uncomfortable returning to work would not be forced to do so.

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Tesla had been in dispute with officials in California in March over whether it had to halt production at the factory under lockdown orders that allowed only essential businesses to continue to operate.

The stand-off ended in the middle of that month when the firm said it would suspend production.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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