Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said Saturday that the company would file a lawsuit and seek to move its headquarters outside California after local officials again prohibited the electric car company from producing vehicles during the outbreak.

Musk made the threats in a series of tweets, claiming that the restrictions imposed by Alameda County, where Tesla’s primary manufacturing facility is located, are “contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!”

In doing so, Musk also said the company would move its headquarters and future programs to Texas and Nevada. He appeared to leave open the possibility of maintaining some operations in Fremont depending “on how Tesla is treated in the future.”

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Alameda County also did not immediately respond.

Musk’s public comments come a day after the company said it would resume vehicle production, only to again provoke the ire of local health officials, who said Tesla “must not reopen.” Alameda County leaders said Tesla did not meet the criteria to resume operations even as California began opening up other parts of the state.

Tesla is headquartered in Palo Alto, California, which is in a different county, and it conducts much of its manufacturing at its Fremont factory. Both are in the Bay Area region, which the first major area in the nation to order residents to shelter in place even before the state.

California this week began loosening some restrictions that allowed businesses and manufacturing to start reopening. But the Bay Area counties have not yet followed, and state officials have made clear that county orders take precedence.

Musk had started calling workers back to the factory Friday. It was at least the second showdown with the county. As Alameda County issued its first shelter-in-place order in mid March, Musk sent an email to employees telling them he would continue reporting to work, although they could stay home if they felt uncomfortable. County officials then ordered it to shut down because it was not an essential business under the county’s definition.

It was not immediately clear if or how Musk might carry out the threats made in the tweets Saturday. The tech billionaire is known for taking to Twitter with potentially unreliable information, including a tweet in 2018 that said he had secured funding to take the company private at $420 a share. It was unclear if that was true, and he and Tesla were later each fined $20 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Musk has also consistently downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus public health orders, calling panic over the virus “dumb,” theorizing about the virus’ effect on children and promoting skepticism over the necessity for social distancing and shelter-in-place orders. On Tesla’s earnings call late last month he launched into a profanity-laced tirade over the ongoing orders, after highlighting was he saw as the “serious risk” posed by the factory’s closure. He called the quarantine measures “fascist.”

Then on May 1, he tweeted Tesla’s stock was priced “too high,” sending the share price plunging during the middle of the trading day.

Musk highlighted Tesla’s economic footprint in a subsequent tweet Friday, noting the size of its manufacturing operation in a likely attempt to sway California officials. The Fremont factory employs 10,000 workers.

County court operations had largely ceased during outbreak, but the Alameda County Superior Court division of California announced it would resume accepting almost all new civil filings beginning Monday.


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