Tesla Inc. and Alameda County officials reached a truce late Tuesday about how and when the company can restart operations at its plant in Fremont, California after CEO Elon Musk threatened to reopen the facility despite orders from the county to remain closed.
The plan calls for the company to spend this week prepping the facility “in preparation for possible reopening as soon as next week,” the county tweeted late Tuesday night. Musk, who’s been critical of the shutdown vocally and on social media, simply tweeted, “Life should be lived.”
The county said it would work with police in Fremont “to verify Tesla is adhering to physical distancing and that agreed upon health and safety measures are in place for the safety of their workers as they prepare for full production.”
The conflict began shortly after California Gov. Gavin Newsome announced parts of the state could resume manufacturing activities, but only with the approval of local officials. Musk told workers to expect to return to work on Monday; however, the county said last Friday that Tesla didn’t have approval to reopen as it’s not considered an “essential” business.
Tesla immediately filed for injunctive relief Saturday, saying that the ban violated the governor’s order. Musk elected to not wait for the results of the hearing, saying he would reopen the plant Monday, and would be working on the lines with employees so if the county wanted, officers could arrest him there, but that he should be the only one taken into custody.
Unsurprisingly, the spat got the attention of President Donald Trump, who has been pushing to reopen businesses despite the warnings of health and science experts, tweeted his support. “California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Employee parking lots at the plant were full on Tuesday, according to Reuters, and there was plenty of activity at the site, including trucks driving in and out of the campus. It was a different scene than just a week ago when there were just a dozen or so cars parked in the lot.
The delay in allowing Tesla to reopen stemmed from county health officials wanting manufacturers to delay operations by at least another week to monitor infection and hospitalization rates, making sure they didn’t rise.
Tesla on Saturday released a plan to keep workers safe, with the precautions and efforts mirroring those of other automakers planning to reopen plants this week and next, including General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Hyundai and Kia had already restarted its U.S. plants last week.
The measures, which include temperature screenings, the installation of barriers to separate work areas and protective equipment for workers. The company’s plant in Shanghai has been up and running for several weeks as well.