FREMONT (CBS SF) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed in a tweet Monday that he would be restarting his production line against Alameda County orders and that “if anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
“If any car manufacturing is happening then that’s not in keeping with the order,” said Fremont City Council Member Raj Salwan.
County leaders said in a press release Monday afternoon that they were in talks with Musk on a reopening plan, and that they hoped the company would comply with the shelter-in-place order to avoid implementing further enforcement measures.
Musk’s Tesla team released in a blog over the weekend the details of its reopening plan that included safety measures. The blog also explained that Gov. Gavin Newsom had allowed the company, which is the state’s largest manufacturing employer, to open up. But the county instead told Tesla to stand down, and had not answered the company’s phone calls.
A Tesla production line employee, who did not want to be identified, told KPIX that he was told by his supervisor to return to work on Sunday at 6 p.m. However, the employee said he chose to follow the county’s stay-at-home order instead.
“The employees are caught in a power struggle,” he said. “I was told I was going to be removed from furlough, placed on unpaid leave and told that my unemployment benefits could be impacted.”
Douglas Frisbie, who owns Peralta Cleaning across from Tesla said he understands Musk’s urge to get back to work, but also knows Musk is taking a risk. Frisbie has been hired to clean faculties after someone has tested positive for COVID-19.
“I think it’s a mistake,” he said. “We need to understand that they’re not just impacting the workers there, they’re impacting the community; this is an invisible silent killer.”
Other Fremont business owners, including Teresa Ngo of Prime Nail Salon, said if Musk can open up with safety measures so should others.
“Things like this will make it easy to forget because they’re going to be, ‘Hey, they’re doing it, you know, what this is all bologna, I can just go about my business,'” said Frisbie.
Tesla is allowed to open on minimum basic operations, according to the county, such as conducting infrastructure or construction work. Its potential open date for manufacturing is May 18th.
The employee parking lot was filled with cars Monday; a stark contrast to the bare lot just a couple days ago on Friday.
Even with Tesla’s extra precautions, the anonymous Tesla employee said it’s still not enough. He has a newborn at home.
“You’re going to be interacting with several different people all throughout the day, touching all the same tools that they’re touching,” he said.