Tesla requests waiver of COVID rules to accommodate 9,000 people at Berlin’s “Giga-Fest”


BERLIN – Tesla is asking for a waiver of COVID-19 rules on mass gatherings for a “Giga-Fest” at its huge factory under construction near Berlin.

The electric vehicle maker plans to host up to 9,000 people to present its plans for the 5.8 billion euro ($ 6.9 billion) plant, which will build Tesla cars for European customers.

Tesla began construction on the plant in the town of Grunheide in December 2019, but is still awaiting final approval for its site

The company plans to hold an event on October 9 to allow residents to see the plant under construction. CEO Elon Musk tweeted earlier this month that he would attend.

Musk said the company hopes to build the first cars at the plant in October or soon after.

Local authorities told Reuters the company had requested permission to have 9,000 people there, beyond pandemic rules that limit those gatherings to 5,000.

“The available documents suggest that the request will be approved,” a spokesperson for local authorities said.

Tesla was not immediately available for comment.

To host the event, Tesla also needs to prove that it won’t damage the land or release toxic substances into groundwater, a topic that has been delaying construction on the land for months.

The automaker is also expected to meet this requirement, the spokesperson for the local authorities said.

Tesla’s chosen site borders a water protection zone, and environmental groups have expressed concern that the plant could contaminate and overuse its groundwater sources.

Musk said the plant will use less water than other industrial projects in the region, and that Tesla’s plans include measures such as a water recycling facility to ensure it doesn’t starve not the inhabitants of their drinking water.

A website set up to register for the event says the day will include a “behind-the-scenes” factory tour and the chance to ride in a Model Y, the car that will be produced on-site if the factory is approved.

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