The coronavirus may now impact Tesla in a significant way. The electric car-making giant may have to shut down its most important factory. It’s where they assemble Tesla’s Model X, Model S, Model 3 and even the Model Y. This factory is located in Fremont, California.
Fremont is part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Specifically, in Alameda County, where a shelter-in-place order is in effect. Under this order, all residents living in this area have been told to only leave their homes for essential purposes.
These include going to the grocery store, getting medicine, etc. As such, they’ve also asked all non-essential businesses to close their doors and send their employees home.
Tesla Originally Expected To Continue Working
Valerie Workman, Tesla’s human resources head, sent an email to their employees essentially saying that Tesla would likely remain open. The email reads as follows.
“National Critical Infrastructure are business sectors crucial to the economic prosperity and continuity of the United States, and includes auto manufacturing and energy infrastructure as defined by the Department of Homeland Security.
People need access to transportation and energy, and we are essential to providing it. We have also been in close communication with the State of California, Alameda County, and the City of Fremont, regarding the federal government’s guidance.
As a result, Tesla and our supplier network will continue operations that directly support factory production, vehicle deliveries, and service. If you work in these areas, you should continue to report to work, and if you don’t you should work from home until further notice.”
Alameda Country Sheriff’s Response
However, the Alameda County Sheriff’s office disagrees with this assessment. They said in a tweet that they do not consider Tesla to be an essential business. This would mean that they’d have to shut down the factory. They also said that Tesla can maintain “minimum basic operations per the Alameda County Health Order.”
These minimum basic operations include specific tasks. The Alameda County Health Order defines them in two different ways.
- The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
- The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has previously called the coronavirus panic “dumb”. The closure of the Fremont factory, however, would mean that its 10,000 employees would have to go home. It seems like he may now be forced to take it a bit more seriously.