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Tesla Factory To Close After Disputed 'Essential Business' Claim Amid Coronavirus Shelter Order

FREMONT (CBS SF) -- The Tesla factory in Fremont will not be allowed to operate after a reported claim that the electric car manufacturer had been designated an "essential business."

A Los Angeles Times story cited an Alameda County spokesman as saying the county had declared Tesla an essential business that was allowed to remain in operation during the Bay Area-wide shelter at home order.

On Tuesday, sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said despite the report, Tesla's assembly line was not being allowed to continue working, and that the plant was only being allowed to conduct minimum operations.


The electric car assembly plant employs about 10,000 workers. CEO Elon Musk told employees in an email Monday, "If you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please do not feel obligated to come to work."

The Times reported Musk's email minimized what he called the"panic" surrounding the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"My frank opinion is that the harm from the coronavirus panic far exceeds that of the virus itself," he wrote. He said that COVID-19 cases "will not exceed 0.1% of the population."

Bay Area counties have issued a shelter in place order, telling people to stay home as much as possible into the month of April.

The Alameda County Public Health Department said the businesses deemed as essential "include healthcare operations; businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals; fresh and non-perishable food retailers (including convenience stores); pharmacies; child care facilities; gas stations; banks; laundry businesses and services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence."

Gas stations, auto-supply and repair, and related facilities are also exempt from the order



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