News: Tesla Workers Deemed Essential By California Health Officials — Exempt From New COVID Restrictions

The exemption affects manufacturing as a critical workforce in the state

Tesla’s CEO clashed with county health officials earlier this year in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, but local health officials took another approach this time as cases in California rise and new restrictions are enacted. (Photos: Tesla)

As California governor Gavin Newsom implemented new “limited stay at home order” restrictions in response to a new statewide surge in COVID-19 cases, health officials have exempted those in the manufacturing sector. Particularly, a CNBC report noted Tesla workers are exempt from the work-related aspect of a new curfew meant to curb the spread of coronavirus. Under the new order, nonessential work and personal gatherings are prohibited between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. However, the automaker’s employees will work under Tesla’s existing plan.

“The Limited Stay at Home Order does not apply to these [Tesla] employees as they are deemed essential workers…manufacturing is listed as an essential workforce.” As the situation currently stands, Alameda County — where Tesla’s Fremont plant is operating — saw nearly 3,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks. While that is lower than some other regions in California, the county is in the “purple” tier. That indicates a severe risk of community infection and a sharp need to curb the virus’ spread where possible. Alameda County could supersede the state order with tighter restrictions, including on manufacturing, but has not done so.

Earlier this year, Tesla defied state and county health orders pertaining to coronavirus. The company did not wind down operations as state and county health departments said it should. This time though, it seems the fight won’t repeat itself as Tesla can move forward under its own plan. Despite complications from the COVID-19 pandemic, CFO Zachary Kirkhorn emphasized a 500,000-vehicle delivery target in a recent earnings call.