Officials pulled the plug on Tesla’s plan to keep making cars at its California factory as the coronavirus locked down much of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The electric car maker told workers it would continue manufacturing operations at its Fremont, California, plant despite local officials ordering residents to stay at home except for necessary reasons. But the sheriff of surrounding Alameda County says Tesla is not an “essential business” that can operate as normal during the extraordinary three-week lockdown.
“Tesla can maintain minimum basic operations per the Alameda County Health Order,” the sheriff’s office tweeted Tuesday. That means Tesla can only continue work required to process payroll, maintain the value of inventory and ensure security at the plant, according to the county’s shelter-in-place order.
An Alameda County spokesman initially said Tesla qualified as an essential business on Monday, but reversed that stance the following day, according to the Los Angeles Times. The list of essential businesses in the county’s order includes “gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities,” but not auto manufacturing plants specifically.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk told employees in a Monday memo to stay home from work if they felt the “slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable,” but said he was unaware of any workers testing positive for the coronavirus. The billionaire raised eyebrows this month with his Twitter pronouncement that the “coronavirus panic is dumb.”
The virus outbreak also slammed Tesla’s factory in Shanghai, China, which just started production last year. Tesla warned that deliveries from the plant would be delayed as it was temporarily closed while the virus spread.
Tesla’s stock price has plunged more than 55 percent since peaking at $968.99 on Feb. 4 as panic about the coronavirus roiled global markets. Shares in the company closed at $430.20 on Tuesday.
With Post wires