President Trump on Tuesday weighed in on Tesla’s spat with California over reopening its factory there, tweeting on Tuesday that the electric automaker should be allowed to return to production despite continued COVID-19 restrictions imposed by local officials.
“California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW,” the commander-in-chief tweeted early Tuesday morning. “It can be done Fast & Safely!”
Musk, who has also gotten a voice of support from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, on Monday announced that Tesla was restarting production against the county’s rules, saying that he would be on the production line with his workers.
“If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” Musk tweeted.
Musk on Tuesday morning said that the first day of production went “great.”
It’s the latest in a weeks-long battle with officials in Alameda County — where its Fremont factory is situated — over a stay-at-home order which barred its vehicle assembly lines from operating. Violations of the country rules can result in fines of up to $1,000 a day and up to 90 days in jail.
Tesla over the weekend sued the county with a federal complaint seeking a court order to stop it from enforcing the lockdown against the carmaker.
It also laid out a plan for reopening factories, publishing a 38-page “Return to Work Playbook” on Saturday which called for a wide range of precautions to keep plans clean and prevent the coronavirus from spreading among workers.
“We will continue to put people back to work in a safe and responsible manner,” Tesla wrote in a Saturday blog post. “However, the county’s position left us no choice but to take legal action to ensure that Tesla and its employees can get back to work.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has lifted statewide lockdown orders on manufacturing, but has given local officials leeway to impose restrictions as they see fit. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told CNBC he agreed with Musk.
“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,” Mnuchin said.
The billionaire executive late last month blasted public officials’ directives to stay at home as “fascist,” saying they were “forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights.”
“It’s breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why they came to America or built this country,” Musk said during Tesla’s earnings call. “What the f–k? Excuse me. Outrage.”
Shares of Tesla were up 2.2 percent following Trump’s tweet, at $828.99.