Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Elon Musk and Tesla gain backing from Trump for California plant reopening

The factory in Fremont, California, has been offline since March, and Musk is willing to be arrested as the company defies local orders.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
3 min read
Tesla Fremont factory
Enlarge Image
Tesla Fremont factory
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

Tesla officially restarted production on Monday at its plant in Fremont, California, albeit not on the local government's terms. CEO Elon Musk confirmed workers are back on the job and specifically said the decision goes against Alameda County's stay-at-home order.

In fact, Musk said he's willing to be placed under arrest as the factory restarts.

On Tuesday, President Trump lent his support to Musk and called on California to "let Tesla and Musk open the plant." Tesla opened its plant on Monday before the president tweeted.

The CEO and president's tweets come after reports of Tesla restarting production on May 11 despite not receiving the green light from the local government. Last Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said some manufacturing could begin restarting, but Alameda County -- where Tesla's Fremont factory resides -- did not lift its order.

Bay Area CBS News affiliate KPIX reported that workers began moving in and out of Tesla's plant in Fremont, California. Photos from local Fox news affiliate KTVU show packed parking lots, further indicating workers had returned Monday morning. One worker dialed into KTVU and told the station he arrived for work at 6 p.m. PT on Sunday with his shift ending 6 a.m. Monday morning.

The worker said Tesla is "up and running" and expressed concerns the plant is not following health guidelines. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Alameda County officials released a statement in regards to Tesla's reopening on Monday, saying it had "learned that the Tesla factory in Fremont had opened beyond Minimum Basic Operations."

"We have notified Tesla that they can only maintain Minimum Basic Operations until we have an approved plan that can be implemented in accordance with the local public health Order. We are addressing this matter using the same phased approach we use for other businesses which have violated the Order in the past, and we hope that Tesla will likewise comply without further enforcement measures," the county said in its statement, which was emailed to Roadshow. "We are actively communicating our feedback and understand Tesla will submit a site-specific plan later today as required under the State of California guidance and checklist for manufacturing issued on May 7. We look forward to reviewing Tesla's plan and coming to agreement on protocol and a timeline to reopen safely."

Tesla Model S Long Range takes us back to the future

See all photos

This weekend, Tesla published an announcement declaring it would restart operations after the state gave the green light to bring manufacturing back online. All the while, the county said it continued to work with Tesla on Friday, but did not believe it was "appropriate" to send employees back to work yet. The county was supposedly working to give Tesla the OK to return to work on May 18.

It led CEO Elon Musk to announce a lawsuit Tesla filed against the county to reopen the assembly plant this weekend. He also declared the automaker's headquarters would relocate to Nevada or Texas and floated the possibility of yanking Tesla production out of California in response to the regulations. Musk has gone as far as calling stay-at-home orders "fascist."

In its return-to-work statement, Tesla detailed the steps it's taking to restart production and underscored it's worked with the county and state governments to bring workers back workers' "health and safety in mind." The 38-page plan also details steps Tesla implemented at its Fremont factory from learnings at its plant in Shanghai -- the only other Tesla production plant.

Watch this: Tesla's Q1 earnings call was a mess

First published May 11.
Update, May 12: Adds comment from President Trump.