Tesla says it has started the process to resume operations and released a plan to bring its employees and contractors back to work, amid an escalating dispute with local health authorities in California over a shelter-in-place order that has kept the automaker's Fremont factory idle during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Our restart plan is the result of months of careful planning and preparation," Tesla's leadership said in a blog post titled "Getting Back to Work." "It was modeled after the comprehensive return to work plan we established at our Shanghai Gigafactory, which has seen smooth and healthy operations for the last three months."
Tesla workers are currently scheduled for shifts this week in Fremont to manufacture Model 3, S and X vehicles, according to company correspondence reviewed by CNBC. Those shifts were scheduled before CEO Elon Musk threatened Saturday to pull Tesla out of California in a dispute over the Fremont factory shutdown.
Tesla has filed a lawsuit against California's Alameda County, asking a federal court to invalidate orders by local authorities that have prevented the automaker from resuming production.
Tesla argues in the company blog post that the Fremont factory falls under Gov. Gavin Newsom's essential workforce guidelines and should resume production because it is critical national infrastructure.
"Contrary to the Governor's recent guidance and support from the City of Fremont, Alameda County is insisting we should not resume operations," Tesla's leadership said in the blog post. "This is not for lack of trying or transparency since we have met with and collaborated on our restart plans with the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency."
Alameda County authorities could not be immediately reached for comment.
Each Tesla facility has a back-to-work plan and a response team, which includes a physician, is establishing health and safety guidelines based on location and job-specific risk assessments, according to the company. In some cases, partitions and barriers have been added to minimize employee interactions.
Tesla's re-opening plan outlines several safety guidelines and protocols for Tesla workers, including increasing cleaning and disinfection in work areas; enforcing social distancing; controlling access to facilities and imposing temperature checks at some locations.
"We are taking the time we need to get our personnel properly trained before they begin work and all employees must complete an online video training before returning to work at any Tesla facility," the company said.
The company will also adjust work shifts to control the number of people in one work space and cut shuttle occupancy in half. The company says it will provide personal protective equipment to workers and implement touchless services for people who have direct contact with customers.
Tesla workers who can work from home will continue to do so but those needed for essential operations in the production facilities will come back to work gradually.
Employees returning to work will complete a self-health checklist each day. Workers that show symptoms are directed to stay home, according to the plan.
Laurie Shelby, Tesla's vice president for environment, health and safety, sent the following email to all of Tesla's U.S. employees on Friday, including factory, showroom and sales workers, laying out health and safety guidelines:
Hi everyone -
We have been working hard to ensure your health and safety as we resume and ramp-up operations.
Additional safety measures like health checks prior to entry, required face coverings while onsite at all U.S. locations (and some other sites globally), social distancing practices, the use of protective barriers and PPE are in place. All of this is covered in the Coming to Work safety training video you can watch now or upon return to work if you are furloughed.
The attached Safety Guidelines summarize this training and outline how we're helping to keep you safe and how you can help too.
It is important to remember: Before coming to work each day, conduct the attached self-health check. It is three questions and if you cannot answer yes, please do not come to work. Contact your supervisor or Human Resources partner. We all must take these requirements seriously. They are an expectation for everyone working. As always, please reach out to me or [Ed: Redacted] with questions and suggestions.
Thank you for doing your part to ensure everyone's health and safety, Laurie
Here is Tesla's back-to-work guide: