Tesla's California plant gets approval to reopen even as sheriff's office receives 200 complaints

Elon Musk defied local lockdown restrictions to reopen on Monday.

May 13, 2020, 10:39 AM

Tesla has struck a deal with California officials to allow its electric vehicle plant in Alameda County to proceed with reopening, a day after CEO Elon Musk announced he was defying local government lockdown orders to restart production.

The Alameda County Health Department released a statement late Tuesday saying the plant in Fremont will be allowed to go beyond basic operations starting next Monday if Tesla abides by its part of the agreement to adopt extra safety recommendations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

PHOTO: Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk speaks at an opening ceremony for Tesla China-made Model Y program in Shanghai, Jan. 7, 2020.
Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk speaks at an opening ceremony for Tesla China-made Model Y program in Shanghai, Jan. 7, 2020.
Aly Song/Reuters, FILE

"We will be working with the Fremont Police Department 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," Neetu Balram, the public information manager for the Alameda County Public Health Department, said in a statement.

The news comes after Musk said on Twitter Monday that he was restarting production "against Alameda County rules," adding that, "If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me."

Meanwhile, the Alameda County Sheriff's office said Tuesday that it has received more than 200 complaints about Tesla reopening just in the past 24 hours.

PHOTO: A car-carrying trailer transporting new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles exits a yard at Tesla's primary vehicle factory in Fremont, Calif., May 12, 2020.
A car-carrying trailer transporting new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles exits a yard at Tesla's primary vehicle factory after CEO Elon Musk announced he was defying local officials' coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions by reopening the plant in Fremont, Calif., May 12, 2020.
Stephen Lam/Reuters

 

The controversial reopening of Tesla's California plant comes as some states are lifting pandemic restrictions and authorities weigh the potential health risks of reopening local economies.

The Tesla plant in Fremont employs more than 10,000 people. In a statement on its website announcing reopening plans, Tesla argued it has "a responsibility to look out for the livelihoods and safety of our personnel, many of whom rely on us and have been out of work for weeks due to the impacts of shelter-in-place orders."

PHOTO: Workers wait in line for a shuttle at Tesla's primary vehicle factory after CEO Elon Musk announced he was defying local officials' coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions by reopening the plant in Fremont, Calif., May 12, 2020.
Workers wait in line for a shuttle at Tesla's primary vehicle factory after CEO Elon Musk announced he was defying local officials' coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions by reopening the plant in Fremont, Calif., May 12, 2020.
Stephen Lam/Reuters

President Donald Trump, who has been an outspoken supporter of reopening the economy, weighed in the saga on Twitter Tuesday morning, siding with Musk.

"California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW," the president tweeted, adding that it can be done "Fast" and "Safely!"

Medical authorities, however, have urged against mass reopening plans in the absence of a vaccine, widespread antibody testing or an effective treatment for COVID-19.

ABC News' Matt Gutman contributed to this report.

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