Tesla cannot operate its main U.S. vehicle factory normally as the San Francisco Bay Area locks down to reduce the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, according to a spokesman for the Alameda County sheriff’s office.
Reuters reports that a county sheriff’s office spokesman has stated that Tesla cannot continue its normal factory operations as the San Francisco Bay Area locks down to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. The comment from the sheriff’s office relates to Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Alameda County, where 10,000 employees work producing approximately 415,000 electric vehicles annually.
The order from the sheriff’s office comes shortly after Tesla began to increase the production of its Model Y sport-utility vehicle at the factory, CEO Elon Musk has stated that the model will see higher demand than all of Tesla’s other models combined. Alameda is one of nine counties covered by a “shelter in place” order that limits activity, travel, and business function to only the essentials and advises individuals to stay at home except for the most important trips.
The measures have been taken in an effort to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, which so far has affected 200,000 people worldwide and killed more than 100 in the United States, with 12 of those deaths in California. The order to close will affect Tesla severely after the firm was forced to shut down its $2 billion Shanghai factory for 10 days on top of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday this year to stop the spread of the virus in China.
“Tesla is not an essential business as defined in the Alameda County Health Order. Tesla can maintain minimum basic operations per the Alameda County Health Order,” the spokesman said. The order states that non-essential businesses can only maintain minimum basic operations such as maintaining inventory value, ensuring security and processing payroll. Violations could result in a fine, imprisonment, or both.
Tesla did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the issue.