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Tesla plant gets police visit to ensure safety compliance
Cars and other vehicles

Tesla plant gets police visit to ensure safety compliance 

SAN FRANCISCO — Police visited Tesla Inc.’s sole U.S. car plant Wednesday to assess whether the electric-car maker was adhering to safety protocols agreed to with the county that CEO Elon Musk publicly said he would defy earlier in the week.

A lieutenant with the Fremont, Calif., police department went to the factory late in the afternoon to view employee screening and physical distancing measures, as well as to confirm universal use of face coverings. Findings from the visit — which Tesla was notified of in advance — will be presented to the public health officer for Alameda County, which will determine compliance, according to a police spokeswoman.

The police visit followed a confusing series of events that has typified the U.S. debate over how soon to reopen the economy. Alameda County issued a statement late Tuesday saying it had agreed to let Tesla augment “minimum basic operations” at the factory more than a full day after Musk said the company was restarting production and was doing so against county rules.

President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin voiced support for the carmaker.

The county said Wednesday that Tesla representatives confirmed the company was not fully operating.

“Tesla has confirmed that its operations require a substantial lead time to become fully operational, and their current operations are only slightly above minimum business operations,” Neetu Balram, a spokeswoman for the county health department, said in an email. Fremont police have done multiple site visits at the plant over several years and are able to confirm the company’s claims based on their knowledge of what the carmaker’s normal operations look like, she said.

If police found a possible violation of the county’s health order or safety measures to which the company agreed, the county and police could decide to present information to the district attorney’s office. But the police spokeswoman played down the possibility of this happening, saying the department’s goal has been to gain compliance through cooperation with all businesses in the city.

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