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Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk is known for his erratic twitter outbursts. However, the developments of the past couple of days are worthy of a soap opera climax and fall in a class of their own. In the latest salvo, Musk has chosen to defy Alameda county’s stay-at-home orders by announcing the resumption of operations at Tesla’s gigantic Freemont facility.
In a surprising tweet on Monday afternoon, Tesla’s CEO announced the opening of the Freemont facility while also assuring workers of his presence at the facility:
“Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2020
This development constitutes one of the most egregious and direct confrontation of the spatial distancing measures enacted across wide swathes of the U.S. in order to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Of course, Tesla’s CEO took this step after days of venting against Alameda county’s restrictions on Twitter. Musk also announced on Saturday the filing of a lawsuit against the county in order to seek an injunctive relief against what the he believes to be discriminatory behavior of the Alameda county officials. According to Musk, the stay-at-home restrictions place Tesla at a competitive disadvantage at a time when other automakers in the U.S. have been allowed to resume their operations. Over the weekend, Tesla also issued a 37-page document that elaborates on the modus operandi that the company will adopt in order to ensure the safety of its employees.
As a refresher, Tesla had hoped to resume operations at its crucial Freemont facility by Friday with around 30 percent of its pre-lockdown workforce. This decision was prompted by new guidelines that California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, issued in order to allow for a gradual resumption of manufacturing activity in the state. Nonetheless, the Governor’s guidance did include a caveat that allowed local governments the flexibility of retaining more stringent stay-at-home restrictions should they deem it a necessity. Alameda county, along with several other Bay Area counties, chose not to opt for a wide-ranging relaxation in the spatial distancing requirements, prompting this dramatic feud.
Interestingly, Governor Newsom and Fremont city mayor have been quite sympathetic to Tesla’s plight. Moreover, Musk’s aggressive pushback against spatial distancing measures has won him the muted support of conservatives aligned with President Trump who would like to see these restrictions removed from the entire country. However, liberals have not generally taken to Musk’s twitter rants, with one California state legislature representative even using a simple expletive to communicate her frustrations with Musk’s vocal opposition to stay-at-home orders.