Elon Musk is reopening Tesla’s Fremont factory, defying a shelter-in-place order throughout California’s Alameda county. Naturally, the CEO made the announcement on Twitter, and with a flair of martyrdom to boot:
Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2020
Tesla is currently suing Alameda County. As noted by Ars Technica, the company is arguing that it should be exempt from the county’s lockdown measures because the state-wide lockdown didn’t cover ‘transportation’ and ‘energy’ sectors of the economy. Tesla says it is part of both.
According to The New York Times, county health officials and Tesla were close to agreeing to reopen the factory as soon as May 18. Apparently, Musk couldn’t wait so long, prompting the lawsuit over the weekend.
Musk has been one of the most prominent voices speaking against coronavirus lockdowns, tweeting “FREE AMERICA NOW” in late April. He also ranted that authorities were “forcibly imprisoning” people in their efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus during an investor call, likening the measures to “fascism.”
In response to Alameda county’s restrictions, Musk said “Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future.”