FREMONT, Calif. – The Tesla factory could be forced to close after Alameda County on March 17 declared it a “nonessential business” under the county’s shelter-in-place order.
Seven Bay Area counties have ordered nearly 7 million residents to shelter in place for three weeks and ordered businesses to send employees home in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Businesses that can remain open include pharmacies, banks and supermarkets – but not electric car manufacturing.
Under the health order, Tesla can maintain “minimum basic operations,” according to a tweet from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. Those are defined in the order as operations ensuring security, payroll processing and employee benefits.
The decision came a day after Chief Executive Elon Musk sent employees an email saying that he would personally continue to work and the factory – which employs about 10,000 people – would remain open.
“My frank opinion is that the harm from the coronavirus panic far exceeds that of the virus itself,” Musk wrote in an email on March 16.
However, he also told workers: “If you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please do not feel obligated to come to work.”
After the announcement, Tesla stock dropped more than 5% in after-hours trading.