Tesla Employees Spotted "Going To Work" At Fremont Despite County Lockdown, Alameda Sheriff's Warning

Update 3/18/2020 (1100ET): Reuters, citing a witness, is reporting that employees have been spotted "going to work" at Tesla's Fremont factory, despite the county's ban and the Sheriff reminding Tesla yesterday on Twitter that they were not an "essential business".

Or as noted Tesla skeptic @TeslaCharts on Twitter put it:

Update 3/17/2020 (2040ET): For those not following the story, Alameda County, where Tesla's Fremont factory resides, has been on lockdown but for "essential businesses" due to the coronavirus outbreak.

But rather than close Fremont (likely recognizing that companies who have already taken billions in subsidy money and burn billions more a year would not be on the short list for a government bailout) Elon Musk decided keep his doors open and keep production going in defiance of the order.

Well, that party is now over.

Tonight, the Alameda County sheriff has responded to Musk's decision, warning them that:

"Tesla is not an essential business as defined in the Alameda County Health Order."

The sheriff instead said the company can "maintain minimum basic operations per the Alameda County Health Order", which basically means that the company can only maintain its inventory, ensure security and make payroll.

It does not mean fire up the production line and have everyone come into work.

Tesla had argued earlier in the day that they were exempt from shutdowns because they are a "national critical infrastructure".

We'll pause for laughter.

Earlier in the day, according to Electrek, Tesla HR had e-mailed the following to its employees:

“National Critical Infrastructure are business sectors crucial to the economic prosperity and continuity of the United States, and includes auto manufacturing and energy infrastructure as defined by the Department of Homeland Security. People need access to transportation and energy, and we are essential to providing it. We have also been in close communication with the State of California, Alameda County, and the City of Fremont, regarding the federal government’s guidance.”

As a result, Tesla and our supplier network will continue operations that directly support factory production, vehicle deliveries, and service. If you work in these areas, you should continue to report to work, and if you don’t you should work from home until further notice.

*  *  *

We already know that Elon Musk thinks the coronavirus panic is "dumb".

We also know Tesla's track record for keeping a safe work environment is less than stellar

But apparently not satisfied unless his workers are directly in the line of harm, Elon Musk is once again creating a new set of rules for himself - just as he has done with the SEC and the NHTSA - and is defying an Alameda County coronavirus lockdown by keeping Tesla's Fremont factory open and running in the midst of a global pandemic.

The quick spread of coronavirus in the Bay Area has led to lockdowns and the shuttering off all non-essential businesses. Businesses in Alameda County are required to “cease all non-essential operations” at physical locations there, according to Bloomberg

Alameda County has declared Tesla an “essential business” that is allowed to remain in operation, the LA Times reports.

When an Alameda County official was asked what makes Tesla "essential", he responded: "That's a good question. We're in uncharted waters right now."

When short seller Nathan Anderson of Hindenburg Research e-mailed Alameda County last night, asking if Tesla would stay open, they punted, telling Anderson he had to direct his question to TeslaSo, it looks like we know who is really running Alameda County. 

Musk apparently wrote to his staff in an e-mail Monday: “First, I’d like to be super clear that if you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please do not feel obligated to come to work. I will personally be at work, but that’s just me. Totally [OK] if you want to stay home for any reason.”

He continued: “My frank opinion remains that the harm from the coronavirus panic far exceeds that of the virus itself. If there is a massive redirection of medical resources out of proportion to the danger, it will result in less available care to those with critical medical needs, which does not serve the greater good.”