- Six Bay Area counties issued a shelter-in-place order for residents on Monday and shut down the area for nonessential business for the next three weeks.
- CEO Elon Musk has downplayed the danger of the coronavirus in previous memos and on Twitter.
- Tesla’s Fremont factory resides in Alameda County, which is under quarantine but it qualifies as an essential business.
While the vast majority of San Francisco Bay Area residents are under a shelter-in-place order and businesses deemed nonessential have shut down, the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, is still producing vehicles, including making deliveries of the Model Y.
The Los Angeles Times reports that CEO Elon Musk emailed factory employees Monday night and told them, “If you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please do not feel obligated to come to work.” The factory employs roughly 10,000 workers.
The factory has been declared an essential business, although when an Alameda county spokesperson was asked why by the Los Angeles Times, he replied, “That’s a good question,” and promised more information will be presented at a later date.
Other businesses that are deemed essential include, hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas and service stations, hardware stores, transportation (airports, buses, etc.), banks, delivery services, and a few others revolving around infrastructure. Residents are to stay in their homes (although walks are fine if you stay six feet from others) unless they work at one of these businesses. Violating the shelter-in-place order is a misdemeanor, but area police enforcement is more likely to just tell you to go home.
If the county of Alameda, where the factory resides, decides to remove the automobile manufacturing exemption, this won’t be the first Tesla facility to close due to concerns over the coronavirus. The new Shanghai factory closed earlier this year to curb the spread of the virus in China.
Car and Driver reached out to Tesla about any additional precautions the company is taking to protect employees working the line. We will update this article if they reply.
Meanwhile, Musk has repeatedly downplayed the dangers of coronavirus both on Twitter and in emails to his employees. Previously he tweeted, “The coronavirus panic is dumb.” Last night he tweeted, “If we overallocate medical resources to corona, it will come at expense of treating other illnesses.”
But in Musk’s email to employees at the factory he said, “If you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please do not feel obligated to come to work.” While Musk said he would be at work, he noted at the end of the memo, “I’d rather you were at home and not stressed, than at work and worried.”
As of last night, there are 3487 cases of COVID-19 in the United States and there have been 68 deaths, according to the CDC.