- 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 tesla's interpretation is that the plant qualifies as an essential business.
update 3/18/20: cnbc reports that it obtained a copy of a memo sent by tesla’s head of human resources that tells employees that the company has had conflicting information from the government. it states, "we still do not have a final word from the city, county, state, and federal government on the status of our operations. we have had conflicting guidance from different levels of government."
the email then tells employees that there are no changes to their normal assignments and they should continue to report to work if they have an essential function. those include: production, service, deliveries, testing, and supporting groups.
those not feeling well or who are "reluctant to come to work" can use paid time off and can borrow up to two additional weeks if they have used up all their time. tesla say they will not penalize employees for decisions not to show up for work.
meanwhile, alameda county sheriff department spokesperson sgt. ray kelly told cnbc, "our directive was clear"—which was that the fremont plant is not an essential business.
tesla has been contacted about its factory operations, and we will update this article if they reply to our queries.
update, 3/18/2020: the alameda county sheriff department has stated that tesla's factory "is not an essential business as defined in the alameda county health order. tesla can maintain minimum basic operations per the alameda county health order."
what exactly that means is still unknown. can tesla still produce vehicles at its current or at something slower? can it finish cars already on the line or can it push through to catch up with orders? we're still not sure but will update this article further once we know.
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.