Coronavirus Impact: Tesla puts Fremont auto assembly line in park amid COVID-19 pandemic

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- After nearly a week of back and forth arguments with local officials over the shelter in place order, Tesla has agreed to temporarily stop manufacturing electric cars at its Fremont plant. But, the episode highlights the disagreements over what constitutes an "essential business" and how to enforce that.

Despite pressure from Alameda County, Tesla tried to keep cars rolling off the line - until today.

The Company says the spread of coronavirus "has caused challenges for our employees, their families and our suppliers. As such we have decided to temporarily suspend production at our factory in Fremont from the end of the day March 23."

The decision followed a conference call with Fremont city officials. The city won't comment on the substance of the talks. But, the affair has put the spotlight on a problem facing local law enforcement.

"We're telling people to comply," says Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern.

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Although the shelter-in-place order comes from the Health Department, the Alameda County Sheriff's office is in charge of making sure they do, and the sheriff isn't sure which health department has overall jurisdiction.

"We're going over the legal authority of that right now, whether it falls with the state department of health or with the local public health director," Ahern says.

Another problem area, only essential businesses are supposed be operating - that includes healthcare, grocery stores, restaurants for takeout, and hardware stores. But businesses have different opinions on what's essential. For example, Elite Armory, a Castro Valley gun shop, closed because of the health department order.

But, on the other side of town Solar Tactical, another gun shop, is still open.

ABC7 News tried to ask why, but an employee responded, "We can't give you any comments or anything like that."

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The sheriff's office says both stores should be closed. But, don't look for any raids or major enforcement, the sheriff would prefer negotiation.

"We try to use de-escalation to get people to comply so we avoid those conflicts."

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