Tesla began making cars again at its Fremont, California plant over the weekend despite an ongoing battle with local officials about whether it should remain closed during the pandemic, The Verge has learned. The company called back some of its workers and has completed around 200 cars Model Y and Model 3 vehicles, according to two current employees. This all happened as CEO Elon Musk threatened on Twitter to move Tesla’s operations out of state and sued the county over its stay-home order.
Other workers are being told to report to work later this week, according to these employees, who were granted anonymity out of fear of retribution. News of the employees being called back was previously reported by Business Insider.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Alameda County’s Public Health Department declined to comment.
Tesla’s Fremont factory has been closed since March 23rd, one week after Alameda County issued the initial stay-home order, and a few days after the governor of California issued a statewide version. The company had spent that intervening time trying to convince local officials that it should be allowed to keep making its electric cars because of Department of Homeland Security guidance that auto manufacturing is “national critical infrastructure.”
Alameda County officials said on Saturday that they were “communicating directly and working closely with the Tesla team on the ground in Fremont,” and that the company was engaged in “a collaborative, good faith effort to develop and implement a safety plan that allows for reopening while protecting the health and well-being of the thousands of employees who travel to and from work at Tesla’s factory.”
But the county officials said they had still not reached an agreement with the company on whether it could reopen its factory. At the same time that the officials released their statement, Tesla sued the county over the stay-home order.