FREMONT (CBS SF) — Telsa announced Thursday it would shut down its Fremont plant and also an assembly facility in New York state on March 23rd in the wake of the growing coronavirus outbreak nationwide.
The announcement ends a controversy surrounding a company decision to continue operations after a shelter-in-place order was issued for all businesses and residents in Alameda County.
A group of workers were angry they were being forced to work, increasing the chance that they could be exposed to the virus. Even the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, responsible for enforcing the shelter-in-place order, got involved.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told KPIX 5 on Tuesday that the Tesla’s assembly line was not being allowed to continue working. The plant was only being allowed to conduct minimum operations.
However, the company claimed the federal government had told it to continue operations.
“In the past few days, we have met with local, state and federal officials,” the company said in a release. “We have followed and are continuing to follow all legal directions and safety guidelines with respect to the operations of our facilities, and have honored the Federal Government’s direction to continue operating.”
“Despite taking all known health precautions, continued operations in certain locations has caused challenges for our employees, their families and our suppliers.”
“As such, we have decided to temporarily suspend production at our factory in Fremont, from end of day March 23, which will allow an orderly shutdown. Basic operations will continue in order to support our vehicle and energy service operations and charging infrastructure, as directed by the local, state and federal authorities.”
The company also said its factory in New York would temporarily suspend production as well, except for those parts and supplies necessary for service, infrastructure and critical supply chains.
Tesla said its decision did not extend to its assembly operations in Nevada.
As for customers awaiting delivery of their new cars.
“In many locations, we are in the process of implementing “touchless deliveries” so customers can continue to take delivery of their vehicle in a seamless and safe way,” the company release said.
Under increasing pressure from the United Auto Workers union and amid multiple confirmed coronavirus cases originating from factories, Detroit’s big three automakers announced on Wednesday they were closing their plants for the time being.
Despite striking a deal with the UAW to only partially close plants and bolster cleaning efforts within factories, Ford, General Motors, and Fiat-Chrysler all bowed out Wednesday in a decision that some workers feel came too late.
“I wish they would have shut the factories down like the governor shut the rest of the state down to take care of us like everyone else’s,” said a Ford assembly plant worker.