Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla, has been an outspoken critic of California’s reaction to the coronavirus lockdown and threatened this weekend to move his massive plant to a state with fewer restrictions like Texas or Nevada.
The threat from Musk was noteworthy because Tesla is such a large manufacturing company in the state. His tweet on Saturday was in response to Alameda County health officials who informed him that the Fremont plant was to stay closed.
Tesla’s factory on Monday appeared to be full on Monday, according to KTVU. The report pointed out that the company is allowed to maintain minimum services at the facility. One worker told KTVU that he worked from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Monday and considered the place “up and running.”
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Musk took to Twitter to announce that the carmaker would “move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will depend on how Tesla is treated in the future.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday that Musk is right to consider alternatives to California.
“I agree with Elon Musk,” he said. “He’s one of the biggest employers and manufacturers in California, and California should prioritize doing whatever they need to do to solve those health issues so that he can open quickly and safely.”
Harmeet Dhillon, the Republican official and attorney, said that Musk was right to follow through on a lawsuit against the county.
“There is a second facility in San Joaquin County and they are allowed to operate, but Alameda County is saying, after some negotiations, we’re not going to let your factory open and that is their main factory in America,” Dhillon told “Fox & Friends.”
She continued, “That’s crippling to the 20,000 employees in Tesla in California and so that’s why he’s threatening to move it all to Texas and other places.”
States are beginning to face challenges from business owners who say that lockdown orders in place are choking their businesses and eliminating any chance at an income. Musk may be the highest-profile critic of these laws, but restaurant owners, church leaders and other business owners have also expressed growing impatience.
CNBC reported that the company’s plant in Fremont has been closed since March 23 over shelter-in-place orders.
“I’m not messing around,” Musk tweeted. “Absurd & medically irrational behavior in violation of constitutional civil liberties, moreover by *unelected* county officials with no accountability, needs to stop.”