No company has been exempted from the new order passed by the state to shut down. Tesla has not been exempted either, and a new order was released by the local sheriff’s office as well as the county official when Tesla decided not to shut its factory despite the released order. The San Francisco Bay Area released a notice to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, which stated, every factory and business bodies need to remain closed for at least 3 weeks, till further information is provided.
The shelter-in-place order was released yesterday after 6 county leaders came together to join force and make a collective effort to stop the spread of Coronavirus. The order also requested its citizens to stay indoors and only to venture out of their homes for an essential business like buying food and groceries. All kinds of non-essential businesses were asked to be shut down with immediate effect.
The head of Tesla’s human resources department, Valerie Workman, stated in an email sent to their employees that she considers Tesla and its factories to fall under the ‘essential business’ term of the order, and the company will remain open and will be exempted from closing. Valerie Workman also commented that, according to the Department of Homeland Security, the factory in question is considered to be critical national infrastructure.
That is certainly not the case here, as Tesla Automotive Manufacturing Company did not fit the language for ‘essential business’ in the order. According to Valerie, “People need access to transportation and energy, and we are essential to providing it.” She further stated that she has been in constant communication with Alameda County, State of California, and the City of Fremont, related to the guidance provided by the federal government.
The CEO of Tesla Elon Musk has surely underplayed the situation as in various emails sent by him to his companies. He has mentioned that the risk of dying with Coronavirus is much lesser than driving a car to your home. He also said that almost 36 thousand automobile deaths occur every year, and it is a lot more when compared to the 36 deaths caused by COVID-19 this year. The CEO further said in his frank opinion about the matter, that the fear of COVID-19 would result in more deaths rather than the virus itself.
Although Elon Musk also mentioned that he has allowed his employees to stop coming to work if they fall ill or are feeling unwell. But whether the employees are being provided with paid sick leaves is still unclear.
On trying to get in touch with the Tesla Company for further comment on the current situation, the company has not responded to the various emails, phone calls, and texts sent to it. Along with Tesla, the California Governor office, City of Fremont, and the Alameda County Sheriff’s office have refrained from providing any comment on being asked about the matter.
Last Tuesday, the Alameda County Office tweeted that Tesla is not considered in the ‘essential business’ body, as said by the Alameda County Health Order. The tweet further said that Tesla is allowed only to continue with some of its basic operations.
By ‘basic operations’ the order means, “the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll, and employee benefits, or for related functions,” and “the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.”Source
The above statements are provided, as mentioned in the order. Any company found to be violating the order will be given a strict warning. If the company fails to follow the order again, immediate legal action will be taken against them.
Other US automaker factories that do not fall in the San Francisco Bay Area are being pressured by the United Auto Workers union to shut down and pause their activities. Further information on the matter waits.