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Tesla plans to partially reopen Fremont factory on Friday

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Even though Alameda County is still under shelter-in-place

Tesla Fremont factory in 2018.
Photo by Sean O’Kane / The Verge

Tesla plans to resume “limited operations” at its Fremont car plant on Friday, bringing back about 30 percent of its workforce, according to emails sent to employees Thursday night. Fremont is located in Alameda County, however, which said in a statement that it’s still under shelter-in-place. Bloomberg was first to report on the emails sent from CEO Elon Musk and Tesla HR boss Valerie Capers Workman.

Alameda County, where the Fremont factory is located, doesn’t see it quite the same way. “We have not said that it’s appropriate to move forward,” Erica Pan, Alameda County’s health officer, said about Tesla, according to Bloomberg. The county told Tesla it didn’t meet criteria to reopen, Bloomberg reported.

Although California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Thursday that manufacturing industries can start to reopen in the state, his guidance does not override county-level restrictions, according to CNBC.

That didn’t stop Tesla’s Musk from jumping on the opportunity:

“In light of Governor Newsom’s statement earlier today approving manufacturing in California, we will aim to restart production in Fremont tomorrow afternoon. I will be on the line personally helping wherever I can. However, if you feel uncomfortable coming back to work at this time, please do not feel obligated to do so. These are difficult times, so thanks very much for working hard to make Tesla successful!”

Tesla’s Fremont plant had been (mostly) idle since March 23rd in compliance with a shelter-in-place order, just as it was beginning to deliver its new Model Y car. Musk has been a vocal critic of California’s lockdown orders, arguing they violate constitutional rights.

Updated May 8th, 2:35PM: Adds Alameda County response in the second paragraph.