Tesla is apparently planning to defy a shutdown order at its Fremont factory after a “shelter in place” order in the Bay Area is forcing people to stay home.
Six counties in the Bay Area have issued a “shelter in place” order with the hope to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and flatten the growth of the virus.
Everyone is to work from home, or stop working, unless they provide an essential service: healthcare workers; police, fire and other emergency responders.
It’s unclear how they plan to enforce the measure, but they have made the sheriffs and police chiefs responsible for compliance.
Social distancing outside Tesla Fremont factory this morning. Those are all Tesla workers, boarding buses for offsite parking to cities as distant as Tracy and Stockton. pic.twitter.com/V1VC4GatgN
— Russ Mitchell (@russ1mitchell) March 17, 2020
Tesla’s Fremont factory, where it produces most of its electric vehicles, is located in one of those six counties and has been suspected to shut down when the order goes into effect at midnight tonight.
However, we have received several reports from Tesla employees stating that they were told by the company that they plan to be in operation tomorrow.
We contacted Tesla several times about the status of the factory following the “shelter in place” order, but the automaker didn’t respond.
It’s unclear if the automaker managed to get an exemption as the order does mention a possible exemption for “auto-supply.”
Update: local autorities have confirmed Tesla is exempt and Elon Musk commented to employees in an email: Elon Musk says ‘coronavirus panic is worse than virus itself’ in email to Tesla employees
Tesla has had some experience with shutting down a factory due to the coronavirus.
Last month, Tesla had to temporarily shut down its Gigafactory Shanghai, Tesla’s only other vehicle-producing facility, in China in order to slow the growth of the virus.
They managed to open it back up quickly after taking measures to limit the chance of transmission:
— Ray4️⃣Tesla⚡️🚘☀️🔋 (@ray4tesla) March 13, 2020
According to the latest numbers from the CDC, they are over 3,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, and 68 people have died because of it.
Some Tesla employees are reporting being told to take paid time off (PTO) if they are feeling sick, but they will otherwise be expected to work.
Over the last few weeks, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has tweeted statements criticizing the level of fear around the coronavirus.
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