May 11, 2020 5:15 PM, EDT

Musk Says Tesla Poised to Defy California County, Reopen Car Plant

Elon Musk listens during a discussion at the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington on March 9.Elon Musk listens during a discussion at the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington on March 9. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

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Elon Musk said Tesla Inc. is flouting the California county that has blocked its efforts to reopen its only U.S. car plant by restarting production at the facility.

“I will be on the line with everyone else,” the CEO said in a tweet May 11. “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Tesla told production workers earlier it was getting back to work at its factory in Fremont, Calif., after a high-pitched battle with local officials who blocked the plant from reopening last week. Valerie Capers Workman, Tesla’s head of North American human resources, said in an email to production workers that their furlough ended May 10 and that managers will contact them within 24 hours with their start date and schedule.

The email conflicted with remarks California Gov. Gavin Newsom made during his daily press briefing May 11. He said he expected the company’s plant would be able to reopen as early as next week.

“My understanding is they have had some very constructive conversations,” Newsom said, referring to Tesla and Alameda County, where Fremont is located. “My belief and hope and expectation is as early as next week, they will be able to resume.”

Tesla sued the county over the weekend after it was told the company didn’t meet criteria to reopen. Newsom, who allowed manufacturing in parts of the state to restart May 8, said May 11 that the county decided to enforce stricter rules around reopening.

When asked about Tesla reopening its Fremont plant regardless of Alameda’s order, Newsom said he was unaware.

“It was my understanding when I walked up to the podium today that that wasn’t the case,” he said.

Alameda’s public health department declined to comment.

Musk, 48, tweeted over the weekend that Alameda’s refusal to let Tesla reopen the Fremont factory was “the final straw” and that he’d immediately move Tesla’s headquarters to Nevada or Texas.

Newsom said May 11 the state has a strong relationship with Tesla, calling it “a company that this state has substantively supported for now many, many years.” Musk then thanked the governor in a tweet.

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