“I’m not messing around,” Elon Musk stated. “Absurd and medically irrational behaviour in violation of constitutional civil liberties, moreover by unelected county officials with no accountability, needs to stop.”

By Ian Horswill


Posted on May 11, 2020

Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk has taken a gamble by threatening to move his headquarters from the Fremont plant near San Francisco in California after he was ordered to keep the plant shut due to the novel coronavirus. The plant employs more than 10,000 workers and makes about 450,000 vehicles annually.

Tesla’s Fremont plant has had only “basic operations” since 23 March because of “shelter in place” orders enacted in Alameda County. California’s government eased certain restrictions around the state last Thursday (local time), allowing businesses to resume operations. However, several Bay Area counties have issued their own criteria for which businesses may reopen, which take precedence in Alameda County. All but essential businesses must remain shut until the end of May.

Tesla filed a lawsuit against the county on Saturday (local time), calling the restrictions a “power grab” by the county since California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, said manufacturers in the state would be allowed to reopen. In the lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court, Tesla said Alameda was going against the federal and California constitutions, as well as defying Governor Newsom.

Elon Musk, whose girlfriend Grimes had a son born last Monday, also said “Tesla knows far more about what needs to be done to be safe through our Tesla China factory experience than an (unelected) interim junior official in Alameda County”.

“I’m not messing around,” the billionaire stated. “Absurd (and) medically irrational behaviour in violation of constitutional civil liberties, moreover by unelected county officials with no accountability, needs to stop.”

Alameda County health department said in a statement on Saturday it had been working with Tesla to develop a safety plan allowing the Fremont plant to reopen while protecting workers.

“We look forward to coming to an agreement on an appropriate safety plan very soon,” the statement said.

Tesla, which has reopened its plant in Shanghai, China, has offered a 30-point guideline to a return to work under strict health safety procotols.

Musk’s stance has not met with universal approval.

Democratic state politician Lorena S Gonzalez put it simply and extremely crudely.

When the backlash had begun, she tried to defend her choice of words.

In a note to investors, Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives wrote: “Moving away from Fremont would take at least 12 to 18 months and could add risk to the manufacturing and logistics process in the meantime.”