Health officials have slammed the brakes on Tesla’s plans to restart production at its US electric-car factory.
Less than 24 hours after Tesla boss Elon Musk announced there were would be a gradual restart of production – after the Californian government said manufacturing in the state would be allowed under a plan to begin easing COVID-19 lockdowns – local health authorities stepped in and said the electric-car factory “must not reopen”.
While Californian officials have started to ease some restrictions, the Alameda Health Department – which is responsible for the area where the Tesla factory is located – says the electric-car production line does not meet the criteria of an “essential business”.
Under current restrictions, manufacturing in the Alameda County is not allowed to restart until after the end of May.
“Tesla has been informed that they do not meet those criteria and must not reopen,” a spokeswoman for the Alameda Health Department told news agency Reuters.
The news wire service also reported that Alameda County officials requested Tesla wait at least another week before restarting production.
Tesla boss Elon Musk has been a vocal critic of the COVID-19 lockdowns, at one point accusing the orders of being “unconstitutional” and claiming they would not hold up in the US Supreme Court if challenged, the Reuters news agency reported.
The news wire service also reported it had seen communication from Tesla claiming only 30 per cent of production line staff would initially be brought back for the restart.
Tesla also reportedly said and any employees who didn’t want to return to work – until after the risk of the pandemic had subsided – would not be forced to do so.
UPDATE 10:30am Sunday 10 May 2020:
After this story was published, Tesla filed a lawsuit seeking "injunctive and declaratory relief" against Alameda County, in a bid to get its factory restarted early. Here is the full story from Techcrunch.com.