Essential business? Tesla plant remains open amid coronavirus, raises questions
Tesla's decision to keep its factory in Fremont in California open has led many to question why the company is being allowed to function despite an order from Alameda County government to keep non-essential businesses shut amid coronavirus outbreak. A number of US media outlets have highlighted how manufacturing cars cannot be deemed an essential business and workers coming to work at the plant are at risk of becoming victims of community spread at a time when the world is collectively urging social distancing.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk earlier this week had said not a single employee of the company has Covid-19 - the official name assigned to coronavirus. "Fear is the mind-killer," he had tweeted. Even before this, he had referred to the 'panic' around coronavirus as 'dumb.'
And while Musk has reportedly told all of his employees to stay at home if they 'feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable,' the factory at Fremont remains open, raising objections from many.
According to The Times, Tesla had been categorised as 'essential business.' The report says that this is despite it not seemingly meeting any requirement for it to be categorised as such.
Late on Wednesday night (US time), Alameda County Sheriff tweeted that Tesla has now been deemed non-essential business but that it can 'maintain minimum basic operations.'
Other, much smaller and local establishments like gyms, dine-in restaurants and bars have been barred from operation.
The orders and appeals to avoid large gatherings at work or leisure is gaining pace across the US as it is across other countries as well. As such, Tesla's massive plant remaining operational could be a grave cause of concern. Many feel that while numerous companies are voluntarily suspending productions, Tesla is opting not to because of its rather infamous reputation of 'manic' charge to meet supply targets. Deliveries of its latest product - Model Y mid-size SUV - began only recently and the prospect of shutting the factory temporarily could have its own set of implications. However, with a growing call for all precautions to be taken against coronavirus, it remains to be seen how long the Tesla plant will brave it out with even Musk saying he will regularly be here to oversee work.