Elon Musk has never been one to follow rules. The entrepreneur announced plans to reopen Tesla’s Fremont factory in defiance of local shelter-in-place orders. He even volunteered as tribute should officials retaliate.
“Tesla is restarting production … against Alameda County rules,” Musk tweeted on Monday. “I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.” The move comes just days after Tesla filed a lawsuit against Alameda County, citing contradictory directives, among other offenses.
As part of a county-wide effort to halt non-essential activities and slow the spread of COVID-19, officials in March ordered the vehicle maker to temporarily close up shop. Despite initial pushback from Musk, who claimed Tesla’s business is essential, the Fremont plant was shuttered on March 23. State-wide restrictions remain in place, though Gov. Gavin Newsom has revealed plans to gradually reopen nonessential businesses “in a limited capacity.” Great news for Tesla employees, right? Not according to Alameda County, which intervened, claiming the local stay-home order is still in place.
“The unelected and ignorant ‘Interim Health Officer’ of Alameda is acting contrary to the governor, the president, our Constitutional freedoms, and just plain common sense,” a furious Musk tweeted on Thursday. Calling this decision “the last straw,” he promised to move Tesla’s headquarters “and future programs” to Texas and Nevada, the latter home to one of the company’s Gigafactories.
“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,” Musk boasted. “San Joaquin County, right next door to Alameda, has been sensible and reasonable, whereas Alameda has been irrational and detached from reality.”
He encouraged shareholders to file a class-action lawsuit, advising that “you should be allowed to recoup damages from the county.”