DETROIT (AP) — It appears the dispute between Tesla and San Francisco Bay Area authorities over the reopening of a factory in the face of shutdown orders appears to have ended.
The Alameda County Public Health Department announced on Twitter late Tuesday the Fremont, California, plant will be able to go beyond basic operations this week and start making vehicles Monday — as long as it delivers on worker safety precautions it agreed to.
It wasn’t clear from a news release whether Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk would face any punishment for reopening last Monday in defiance of county orders. Messages were left early Wednesday seeking comment from health officials and Tesla.
The release said Fremont police would verify whether Tesla was holding up its part of the agreement. The deal requires public health indicators have to remain stable or improve for the factory to stay open.
“We will be working with the Fremont PD 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 release said.
Tesla’s factory reopened Monday for pre-production, and operations apparently continued into Tuesday. The company met a Monday deadline to submit a site-specific plan to protect worker safety.
However, the reopening defied orders from the health department, which has deemed the factory a nonessential business that can’t fully open under restrictions intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The health department has said it warned the company was operating in violation of the county health order and hoped Tesla will “comply without further enforcement measures” until the county approves a site-specific plan required by the state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom framed the issue Wednesday as a local dispute, noting the state guidelines have allowed some manufacturing “for weeks” when counties permit resumption. He said he’s urged local governments to follow the state’s approach in dealing with rogue operators by seeking “not to be punitive at first.”
“It sounds like, based upon the progress that’s been made public, with the county and Tesla, that they were able to resolve their issue in fairly short order along those same lines,” he said.
State law allows a fine of up to $1,000 a day or up to 90 days in jail for operating in violation of health orders.
The plant in Fremont, a city of more than 230,000 people south of San Francisco, was closed March 23. It employs about 10,000 workers.