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Coronavirus Update: Flouting County Lockdown, Tesla Brings Workers Back to Fremont Factory

FREMONT (KPIX) -- One major Bay Area company is doing it's best to get its workers back on the job. The only problem? The call to return to work is against current county health orders.

In an e-mail sent Thursday night, Elon Musk called 30 percent of the Tesla Fremont factory workforce back to the plant to start making cars, saying Gov. Gavin Newsom's order permitted it.

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The problem? The governor said that local orders, such as those in Bay Area counties pushing the lockdown easing to May 31, can supersede the state order.

"Based upon conditions on the ground ... I want to thank the local health directors in the Bay Area for doing what they think is right for their communities," Newsom said in a news conference Friday.

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That was backed up by the Alameda County public health department which issued this statement, saying the electric car maker is out of compliance.

"Tesla has been informed that they do not meet those criteria and must not reopen. We welcome Tesla's proactive work on a reopening plan so that once they they fit the criteria to reopen they can do so in a way that protects their employees and the community at large," Neetu Balram said in a statement.

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The Tesla plant had to be shut down at the beginning of the Bay Area's stay-at-home order. Musk deemed it an "essential business," while health officials did not.

Silicon Valley observers aren't surprised Musk's company tried to dodge the rules.

"He's a guy who flaunts (sic) authority. He's done that his entire career. He's done it with his own board. This is Mr. Musk playing according to type," said Russell Hancock, president and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

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