Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatened Saturday to pull the company’s factory and headquarters out of California in an escalating spat with local officials who have stopped the company from reopening its electric vehicle factory.
On Twitter, Musk also threatened to sue over Alameda County Health Department coronavirus restrictions that have stopped Tesla from restarting production at its factory in Fremont south of San Francisco.
“Frankly, this is the final straw,” he tweeted. “Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately.”
He wrote that whether the company keeps any manufacturing in Fremont depends on how Tesla is treated in the future.
Musk has been ranting about the stay-home order since the company’s April 29 first-quarter earnings were released, calling the restrictions fascist and urging governments to stop taking people’s freedom.
An order in the six-county San Francisco Bay Area forced Tesla to close the Fremont plant starting March 23 to help prevent the virus’ spread, and it was extended until the end of May. Public health experts say the orders have reduced the number of new coronavirus cases nationwide. California Gov. Gavin Newsom allowed the Bay Area counties to continue restrictions while easing them in other areas of the state.
In a statement Saturday, Alameda County’s Health Department said it has been working with Tesla to develop a safety plan allowing the Fremont plant to reopen while protecting workers. “We look forward to coming to an agreement on an appropriate safety plan very soon,” the statement said.
But the statement also said residents and businesses have made sacrifices to protect the health of people in the region. “It is our collective responsibility to move through the phases of reopening and loosening the restrictions of the shelter-in-place order in the safest way possible, guided by data and science,” the department said.
Fremont Mayor Lily Mei wrote in a statement that she is growing concerned about the regional economy without provisions for major manufacturing to resume operations.
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“We know many essential businesses have proven they can successfully operate using strict safety and social distancing practices,” the statement said.
Emails seeking from Newsom have not been returned.