FREMONT (CBS SF) — Fremont police inspectors have conducted a site visit at Tesla’s assembly facility to make sure automaker Elon Musk was honoring the conditions of his agreement with local health officials to be able reopen the massive plant to full operation on Monday.
Despite a nearly full employee parking lot, the inspectors found that operations inside sprawling facility had not been ratcheted up to full capacity as had been reported.
“We conducted a site visit yesterday,” Fremont police said in an email to KPIX 5. “We had full access of the facility. This was conducted by the same employees who visited back in March. We aren’t releasing any of our findings, but we are providing the information to the Public Heath Officer, as asked of us. We did note that they are definitely not back to full operations, as is being reported by numerous media outlets.”
After days of contentious debate, Alameda County health officials approved Musk’s reopening plans on Tuesday night with the condition that the Fremont police be allowed into the plant to make sure proper social distancing measures were being enforced.
The deal called for the plant being allowed to begin full operations on Monday.
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Workers began streaming into the plant early Monday in defiance of a local coronavirus shelter-in-place ordinance while Musk took to social media to defiantly challenge the mandate. He even threatened to move the operation out of the state of California.
Both sides became entrenched for nearly two days in a standoff. President Donald Trump, Gov. Gavin Newsom, local officials, Tesla workers, nearby business owners and Fremont residents all weighed in. Some showed their support for Musk’s demands while others cautioned against what they believed was a too early reopening.
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On Wednesday, Tesla employees arriving at work were greeted by a crowd of demonstrators who want to see all businesses back to work.
One supporter told KPIX 5, “We are here to support Elon Musk and his ability to open up and have workers make money as they can save their families.”
“We are the people, please listen to us,” said small business supporter Mary Lynn Pelican. “We want shelter-in-place and safety but we want people to have their jobs back.“
Tesla and Alameda County came to an agreement on safety measures for its employees. The factory is allowed to ramp up operations with specified guidelines. But the demonstrators didn’t agree with that protocol.
“I think we need to let industries decide under what condition can they safely operate under the current situation,” said small business supporter George Yang.
“We should not let our health officer tell us what to do they should make recommendations on how to open businesses are really hurting,” said Anna Kramer with San Mateo GOP.
Those who obeyed the health order say this reopening system doesn’t seem fair.
“We don’t have to open up everything just like that,” said one demonstrator. “But we do need to look at why do we have a Home Depot open and 200 in that store when we can’t even put 10 people spaced properly in a mom and pop shop or restaurant tell me why.”
On Tuesday night, the cantankerous debate appeared to have come to an end. But there are conditions.
“We reviewed the plan and held productive discussions today with Tesla’s representatives about their safety and prevention plans, including some additional safety recommendations,” the Alameda Health Department said in a statement. “If Tesla’s Prevention and Control Plan includes these updates, and the public health indicators remain stable or improve, we have agreed that Tesla can begin to augment their Minimum Business Operations this week in preparation for possible reopening as soon as next week.”
Health officials said the Fremont police department would monitor conditions at the plant to make sure proper social distancing practices were being maintained.
“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,” the statement read.
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