Tesla was able to get clearance to continue operations legally, according to an internal email that was sent to employees last May 17.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Tesla VP for environmental health and safety Laurie Shelby sent the email after the plant had been toured by the county’s health and safety officials last week.
Storied relationship with local government
This could potentially end the feud that’s been going on between Tesla—specifically CEO Elon Musk—and the local Alameda County local government.
Musk has been vocal about the county’s shelter-at-home policy ever since they began. Back in March, he defied county orders and continued the plant’s operations until the county sheriff visited the plant to shut it down.
The CEO then openly criticized the government’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic on Twitter. This came to a head last week when Tesla restarted operations against county regulations.
Tesla resumed operations last May 11, with Musk leading the charge. He tweeted that if the government had a problem with the company’s reopening, they should just arrest him.
Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2020
Getting full approval
Elements of the national government sided with Tesla in the legal kerfuffle. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has expressed support for Musk and Tesla, according to CNBC.
In fact, Donald Trump has also said that the county should allow Tesla to reopen. In a report by Reuters, the president tweeted that the company could resume work safely.
California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
The main point of contention was that Tesla employed a lot of people in the Fremont area, and could be instrumental in jump-starting the local economy.
Alameda, however, was one of six Bay Area counties that remained on lockdown after California state relaxed restrictions. The state allowed counties to enforce their own restrictions afterward, and Alameda chose to maintain restrictions until the end of May.
Tesla’s reopening date
The county had been working on allowing Tesla to reopen on May 18, at the same time other automakers were aiming to restart operations, per reports.
However, last May 9, Tesla sued the county for preventing it from reopening its factory. On the same day, it also released a safety plan for its workers once the company reopened.
After the company reopened against county orders last week, the county said that they would allow Tesla to run the factory if it met safety requirements.
Shelby’s letter seems to indicate that it has done so. However, the company has yet to release a statement.
Images courtesy of Sundry Photography/Shutterstock