The Slatest

Elon Musk Threatens to Move Tesla Out of California Amid Fight Over Coronavirus Closure

Elon Musk listens to a question during the Satellite 2020 at the Washington Convention CenterMarch 9, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
Elon Musk listens to a question during the Satellite 2020 at the Washington Convention CenterMarch 9, 2020, in Washington, D.C. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images

Elon Musk is mad. And he made sure everyone knew it on Saturday as he lashed out on Twitter after California health officials said he could not open his Tesla production plant in Fremont. As a response, Musk said he would sue and move the company’s headquarters to Texas or Nevada “immediately.” The company’s California plant produces almost all of the vehicles that it sells.

The fight began when Tesla announced that it planned to resume “limited operations” at the Fremont plant yesterday. Musk had informed staff about his plans in an email, citing California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that manufacturers in certain parts of the state could resume operations. But Musk seemed to ignore the fact that Newsom had also said local authorities would have the final say. Alameda County health officials warned they had not given the green light for Tesla to reopen. “We have not said that it’s appropriate to move forward,” Erica Pan, Alameda County’s health officer, said Friday during a web conference.

The county later said in a statement that it informed the company it didn’t meet criteria to reopen, although it didn’t specify which criteria it was referring to that the company failed to meet. “Restoring all daily activities too soon risks a rapid spike in cases and would jeopardize the relative stability we’ve seen in our health and hospital system,” read the statement.

On Saturday, Musk said he would file a lawsuit against Alameda County “immediately” because “unelected & ignorant” official who is preventing the company from reopening “is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!” The “ignorant” official Musk lashed out against appears to be Elaine Pan who is “a physician with decades of experience in infectious disease,” notes the Los Angeles Times.

This is not the first time Musk has openly criticized Alameda County officials because of their actions to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. After a stay-at-home order was issued on March 16, Musk kept the plant open for a week. He tried to claim that manufacturing electric cars was essential to national security. The plant was finally closed March 23. Musk has also repeatedly criticized measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, even calling stay-at-home orders “fascist” during a call with investors. On April 29 he wrote an all-caps Trumpian message on Twitter, “FREE AMERICA NOW.” Musk seems to think he know what’s best even though he severely underestimated the severity of the virus before, claiming in January that the coronavirus “will turn out to be comparable” to the cold.