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Tesla sues California County in the fight against closing viruses and threatens to leave

Image:- Elon Musk and Tesla car

On Saturday Tesla Inc sued local authorities in California, while the electric carmaker was pushing their plant to open again and CEO Elon Musk threatened to move Tesla headquarters and future programs from the State to Texas or Nevada.

Musk has been pushing for the reopening of Tesla's Fremont factory, California, after Alameda County's health department said the carmaker should not reopen because local lockdown measures to curb coronavirus spread remain in effect.

In a Saturday blog post, Tesla said the county's position left it with no choice but to take legal action to ensure that Tesla and her employees can return to work.

The company said it had worked out a thorough return-to-work plan that includes online personnel video training, work zone partition areas, temperature screening, requirements for wearing protective equipment and rigorous protocols for cleaning and disinfecting.

The company said it had informed health authorities of its restart plans in Alameda County, where the Fremont factory is located, but claimed the acting official did not return calls or e-mails.

The Department of Public Health at Alameda County, which said it had been "directly communicating and working closely with the Tesla team" earlier on Saturday, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla filed a lawsuit against the county in San Francisco federal court on Saturday, calling the county's continuing restrictions a "power-grab" since the governor of California had said Thursday that the state's manufacturers would be allowed to reopen.

The company said Alameda was going against the constitutions of the federal and California, and defying the order of the governor, the lawsuit said.

Alameda County is scheduled to remain closed until the end of May, with only the reopening of essential businesses. The county has said it does not regard Tesla as an essential business. County officials were not responding immediately to a lawsuit request for comment.

Also on Saturday the outspoken Musk took to Twitter to complain and threatened to leave the state.

"If we retain Fremont's manufacturing activity at all, it will depend (sp) on how Tesla will be treated in the future," he tweeted, referring to Tesla's only U.S. vehicle factory in the San Francisco Bay area.

On Saturday, Alameda County said it was working with Tesla to develop a safety plan that "allows reopening while protecting the health and well-being of the thousands of employees" working at the factory and that it looks forward to coming to an agreement on a safety plan very soon.

Fremont Mayor Lily Mei expressed concern about the potential economic consequences of continuing the shelter-in-place order without resumption of provisions for manufacturers like Tesla. Mei urged the county on Saturday to work with businesses on "acceptable reopening guidelines." Musk had told employees on Thursday that limited production would restart Friday afternoon at Fremont.

Tesla built nearly half a million vehicles at the Fremont plant last year, and would be a massive undertaking to move the entire production facility.

Dan Ives, a Wedbush analyst, estimated on Saturday it might take 12 to 18 months for the company to relocate production.

The threat to relocate the facility comes as Tesla aims to ramp up its Model Y sport utility vehicle production at Fremont which it expects to generate record demand and profit margins.

Musk, who sparked with California officials in March over whether Tesla had to stop production in Fremont, had criticized the lockdown and stay-at-home orders, calling them a "serious risk" to U.S. business and "unconstitutional." Tesla shares have risen 127 percent since March 18, their recent closing low, including a 16.8 percent gain in the last week of trading to close on Friday at $819.42;

Article Edited by | John Heine |

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