US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has backed Tesla CEO Elon Musk in his bid to reopen his electric car plant in California amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Secretary Mnuchin told CNBC. “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.”
According to the BBC, Since 23 March, all but "basic operations" have been suspended at Tesla's Fremont plant, near San Francisco, because of "shelter in place" orders enacted in Alameda County. The factory employs more than 10,000 workers and makes about 415,000 vehicles every year.
California’s government has eased some restrictions this week, allowing some businesses to reopen. But authorities in several Bay Area counties have issued their own criteria.
In Alameda Bay, where the Tesla factory is based, all but essential businesses must remain shut till the end of May.
Musk threatened to pull Tesla out of California on Saturday amid a dispute with the local government over the shutdown.
Tesla also filed a lawsuit against Alameda County accusing it of violating California’s constitution by defying state Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders on Thursday allowing manufacturers to reopen, cited in Reuters.
Tesla is filing a lawsuit against Alameda County immediately. The unelected & ignorant “Interim Health Officer” of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2020
Scott Haggerty, supervisor for the Fremont district of Alameda County, told the New York Times on Saturday that a plan was being agreed on between Tesla and the local government to reopen the plant on May 18. However, Musk has pushed for an earlier date.
According to Reuters, Tesla shares dropped 1.3% to $808 shortly after midday on Monday. They had fallen more than 3% premarket after China’s Passenger Car Association reported that the company’s Model 3 sales in April were down 64% on the month.