By Tina Bellon and Ayanti Bera
(Reuters) – Tesla Inc is aiming to restart production in its U.S. car plant in Fremont, California on Friday afternoon, according to an email sent by Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk to staff.
The move comes a day after California Governor allowed manufacturers in the state to reopen operations closed due to coronavirus-led lockdowns, even though Alameda, the county where Tesla’s Fremont factory is located, is scheduled to remain shut until the end of May.
Manufacturing operations in the county, including Tesla’s only U.S. vehicle factory, are not allowed to operate regularly, according to the county order.
Musk has been criticizing the lockdown and stay-at-home orders calling them a “serious risk” to U.S. business, even tagging them “unconstitutional” and saying they would not hold up before the U.S. Supreme Court if challenged.
Starting Friday, limited operation will resume at the Fremont factory with 30% of normal headcount per shift, according to an internal company mail seen by Reuters.
“Our Gigafactories in Nevada and New York have also begun limited operations as approved by their respective states,” the mail said.
However, Musk said employees who feel uncomfortable coming back to work were not obligated to do so.
California’s order from Thursday does not supersede the county plan, Alameda Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ray Kelly told Reuters on Thursday.
The Fremont plant shut its operations in mid-March after lockdowns were imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has infected over 3.8 million people globally.
Tesla did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
(Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York and Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Shinjini Ganguli)