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Tesla restarts Fremont factory despite conflict with authorities [update: Musk openly defies order]

Déjà vu. Tesla appears to be defying the local shelter-in-place order as Fremont factory employees were spotted returning to work en masse.

Last week, following an announcement from California Governor Gavin Newsom about starting the process to reopen the state, Tesla started telling employees that they are reopening Fremont factory, and that some of them would be expect to return to work as soon as Friday.

However, Newsom left it up to the local counties to start reopening on their own timeline. Alameda County, where the Fremont factory is located, shut down Tesla’s attempt to restart production.

CEO Elon Musk threatened to move Tesla’s operations from California to Texas/Nevada in response, and Tesla filed a lawsuit against the county.

Alameda County said that it had been working with Tesla to reopen the plan on May 18, but Tesla wanted to restart last week.

Scott Haggerty, the county supervisor for the district in Alameda County, told the New York Times:

We were working on a lot of policies and procedures to help operate that plant and quite frankly, I think Tesla did a pretty good job, and that’s why I had it to the point where on May 18, Tesla would have opened. I know Elon knew that. But he wanted it this week.

Now Tesla appears to have moved forward with opening the factory.

Local news KTVU reported that the Fremont factory parking lot was full of cars this morning:

Even before the sun came up Monday, it appears as though the parking lot was full at the Tesla factory in Fremont.

Along with the lawsuit, Tesla went on a PR offensive on Saturday and laid out its arguments to reopen the factory along with publishing a 37-page document about the measures being put in place to safely restart operations at the factory, which employs over 10,000 people.

A Tesla employee talking to local news reportedly believes that some of those guidelines are not being followed:

KTVU received a call from a Tesla employee who said he was at work from 6 p.m. Sunday until 6 a.m. Monday. He said Tesla is ‘up and running’ and he feels like health guidelines aren’t being followed.

Fremont factory, where Tesla is producing most of its cars, has been shut down since March 24.

The automaker has received some support from local officials, like Fremont Mayor Lily Mei, about reopening the factory, while others insist that Tesla should follow the county’s orders.

Update: Musk confirmed that Tesla is restarting production despite the county order:

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