In open defiance of the county’s public health order, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter Monday he would reopen the factory. This past weekend, the company sued Alameda County, California for insisting the factory remain closed through the end of May, as its health order was extended to curb the spread of coronavirus. Even though Tesla has not been given the green light, Musk is telling his employees to report to work anyway.
“If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” Musk said in his latest tweet on the matter, while also saying he would be on the production line with everyone else. The Associated Press reports that enforcing the health order would fall to Fremont police, and a spokesperson for the police department said any action would in turn be taken at the direction of the county’s health officer. On Saturday, Musk also said that this “is the final straw”, and threatened to move Tesla’s operations out of California. However, even if Musk were to try and make good on his threat, such a move may be prohibitively expensive at this point.
In California, state law permits a fine of up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail for defying a public health order.
AP also mentioned that the parking lot at Tesla’s Fremont facility was nearly full Monday. That suggests the company is already gearing up production again, in open defiance of the county’s restrictions, which deemed Tesla a “nonessential business” that couldn’t open until the end of May.
For its part, the Alameda County Public Health Department said Monday that it expected to see Tesla submit a plan to reopen safely by 5 P.M. Monday. However, it remains to be seen whether local officials will actually take enforcement action against Musk or Tesla.