Tesla’s electric vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California, will continue to operate as usual, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday, despite shelter-in-place guidance issued by six San Francisco Bay Area counties earlier in the day designed to hobble the spread of coronavirus. Alameda County, where the Tesla plant employs about 10,000 workers, has been deemed an “essential business,” a county spokesman told the newspaper.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk told employees in an email Monday that operations at the plant would continue, the newspaper reported. “If you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please do not feel obligated to come to work,” he said in the email.
Earlier Monday, Bay Area leaders announced a lockdown designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The order effectively shuts down most business activity, although “necessary government functions and essential stores” will still be open. The measures will last through April 7, although the time frame could be shortened or lengthened.
Musk also appeared to minimize the threat posed by the virus, suggesting that the “panic” was a greater danger, according to the LA Times.
“My frank opinion is that the harm from the coronavirus panic far exceeds that of the virus itself,” he wrote. “I will personally be at work, but that’s just me.”
But he reportedly closed his email by reassuring employees that he had their best interest at heart. “I’d rather you were at home and not stressed, than at work and worried.”
Tesla representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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