Tesla CEO Elon Musk escalated his quarantine battle with California officials on Monday by saying he would restart vehicle production at his company’s northern California factory in spite of lockdown orders intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules,” Musk tweeted just before 5 p.m. to his 34 million followers. “I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
The billionaire’s bravado marks the culmination of weeks of protest from the 48-year-old tech entrepreneur, who has spoken out against Alameda County officials who have barred the Fremont factory’s assembly lines from operating under a lockdown order aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
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.”
Musk 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.”
A representative for Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shares of Tesla were flat in extended trading. The stock closed down 1 percent on Monday, at $811.29.
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