The Tesla factory in Fremont will remain open with a limited workforce during Alameda County's shelter-in-place order prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, an Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman said Wednesday.
Alameda County said Tesla told the county it has reduced its workforce at its factory from 10,000 to 2,500.
Alameda County on Tuesday night declared Tesla a “nonessential business” under the county’s order.
Several Bay Area counties have ordered millions of residents to shelter in place for three weeks and ordered businesses to send employees home in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Under the health order, Tesla can maintain “minimum basic operations,” according to a tweet Tuesday from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. Those are defined in the order as operations ensuring security, payroll processing and employee benefits.
“If Tesla was a hospital, if Tesla was a laundromat, if Tesla was a mechanic shop, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Alameda County spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told the San Jose Mercury News. “But Tesla makes cars, and that’s not essential for us to get through this health crisis.”
Messages to Tesla representatives seeking comment weren’t immediately returned Tuesday night.
The decision came a day after Chief Executive Elon Musk sent employees an email saying that he would personally continue to work and the factory in Fremont would remain open.
“My frank opinion is that the harm from the coronavirus panic far exceeds that of the virus itself,” he wrote Monday night.
However, he also told workers: “If you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please do not feel obligated to come to work.”
The Fremont plant is the only Tesla car-making plant in the United States.