Tesla will require masks for all workers at its Nevada battery factory

It's a sharp contrast to the EV maker's defiance in 2020.

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The Tesla Gigafactory seen from the top of a surrounding hill.
REUTERS/Bob Strong

Tesla appears to have come a long way from the days when it was defying local COVID-19 safety orders. Wall Street Journal sources claim Tesla will require all staff at its Nevada Gigafactory to wear masks starting August 9th, regardless of their vaccination status. Employees at the battery plant previously only needed to wear masks if they hadn't been fully vaccinated.

The tipsters said Tesla was toughening its policy in the wake of the more easily transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, including updated CDC guidance recommending that vaccinated people wear masks indoors. Although full vaccinations still reduce the chances of infection and symptoms, there's evidence that breakthrough cases (those instances when vaccinated people get infected) can readily transmit the virus to others.

The company hasn't responded to requests for comments, although it's not expected to do so when it quietly disbanded its public relations team in fall 2020.

Tesla has been slightly slower than its Detroit-based competitors, which reinstated mask mandates a week earlier. However, it's a sharp contrast from the EV maker's attitude in May 2020, when it defied an Alameda County lockdown and kept its Fremont car plant open. Elon Musk also threatened to move Tesla's headquarters out of California and sue the county. The move may have led to additional infections at the Fremont plant, and Musk said he contracted COVID-19 in November 2020.

It's easier for Tesla to comply this time when its factory can remain open. The car brand also can't afford to test officials' patience when it's struggling to keep up with demand for its vehicles. Still, the reported mask order is a sharp contrast to Tesla's previous attitude — it's volunteering to take action rather than fighting back.

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