President Trump says Elon Musk should be able to reopen Tesla plant amid coronavirus

President Donald Trump gives thumbs up as he arrives to speak with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP)

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday Tesla CEO Elon Musk should be able to restart a company factory in California, in defiance of local coronavirus containment efforts.

“California should let Tesla and @ElonMusk open the plant now,” said Trump in a tweet on Tuesday morning.

“It can be done fast & safely,” he added.

Musk announced on Monday the Tesla factory in the city of Fremont would be “restarting production.”

“I will be on the line with everyone else,” Musk said in a tweet. “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

The restart defied orders from the local county public health department, which deemed the factory a nonessential business that can’t open under current restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The department warned Tesla on Monday that the company was operating in violation of the county health order.

The department said it hoped Tesla would “comply without further enforcement measures” until the county approves a site-specific plan required by the state.

Employing more than 230,000 people, the factory has been closed since March 23. Tesla said it has planned to restart the plant with the enforcement of prevention measures, such as wearing gloves and masks, and social distancing.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., introduces the Model X car at the company's headquarters Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, in Fremont, Calif. (AP)

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., introduces the Model X car at the company's headquarters Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, in Fremont, Calif. (AP)

The Fremont facility is Tesla’s only US vehicle assembly plant, and the company would lose critical production if it shut down the plant to move equipment.

California state law allows for a fine of up to $1,000 a day or up to 90 days in jail for operating in violation of health orders.

Musk has also threated to move the company’s headquarters out of the state to Texas or Nevada.

- With The Associated Press

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:58 - GMT 06:58
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