Panasonic has begun working on its battery cells at the Tesla’s Gigafactory outside Reno, Nevada according to official statement from the company to The Verge. Even though it has started work at Nevada’s factory, it will not return to work at the Tesla’s Buffalo in New York solar panel factory this weekend as initially planned.
According to Mark Shima who is the President of Panasonic Solar North America (PSNA) told employees of the company in an email which was obtained by The Verge that the company will be delaying the resumption due to the region which the factory is in did not meet the New York State Governor’s new criteria for reopening. “We will NOT restart manufacturing on this Saturday, May 16th,” Shima wrote in an email sent Thursday. “The new target date depends on the COVID-19 situation of Erie County and it will be announced from me in next several days.”
A PANASONIC EMPLOYEE IN BUFFALO TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 IN MARCH
Western New York was given seven new criteria before reopening operations in the cities and in order to meet those requirements, the region needs another 14-days decline in net hospitalizations or to have an average of less than 15 new hospitalizations a day for three days. Also, there must be 14 days of decline in hospital deaths – or a three day average of fewer than five deaths
Because Western New York hasn’t met these criteria, the stay-home order has been extended to May 28. If the region meets those final two criteria before then, Panasonic could be allowed to bring workers back.
The company has stopped its operation at the New York factory back in mid-March when one of it’s employees would later on test positive for the COVID-19 illness. The PSNA has spent the past weeks preparing the Buffalo factory where an employee tested positive to the illness for operation as it’s where the company makes Tesla solar panel for roofs. The company even told workers that it petitioned the governor’s office to allow PSNA to open back up early, according to one of the emails — this effort seems to have been in vain. Shima told employees in a May 9th email that the company is planning to space employees six feet apart, provide masks and wipes, and put transparent shields on the production line.
Panasonic also said earlier this year that it would be parting ways with Tesla at the New York factory even though it had initially said it would only hire workers there through the end of May and then plan to fully exit the factory by September. One current employee told The Verge that PSNA has at least a month’s worth of work left to do inside the factory.
No statement could be obtained from the Panasonic North America spokesperson but the said the company has been in a “steady ramp up” at the Nevada Gigafactory. Tesla had even started working at the factory as well as the governor of the state recently announced the first phase of the state’s plan to allow businesses to reopen but with mandatory usage of safety measures such as face mask and temperature checkups on the regular.
“We are in regular communication with local and state officials, are following the state guidance for essential businesses, and have enacted robust health and safety protocol that include social distancing and special cleaning practices,” the Panasonic spokesperson said, referring to resuming work at its Nevada plant.
“[PANASONIC] WILL ALWAYS FOLLOW THE LAWS AND OFFICIAL DIRECTION FROM STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT.”
Many request to know whether Tesla had began operations at the New York factory isn’t clarified by the company even though it forced its way into operation at its Fremont factory in California prompting outrage int he county where the company’s factory is located.
And Elon Musk hasn’t really been a fan of the shelter-in-place order as he’d called this “fascist” in the past and in fact said he’d rather be arrested than to not begin operations at the factory.
Shima on the other hand doesn’t seems as aggressive in his email to employees on Thursday. “Please remember that one of the important policy of PSNA is compliance,” he wrote. “PSNA will always follow the laws and official direction from State and local government, even if those are different from our intention for PSNA’s business activities.”