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Action sought to deem dealerships 'essential'

March 20, 2020
In a March 17 letter to President Donald Trump, the leaders of the National Automobile Dealers Association and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation urged him, when considering any executive orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to classify dealerships as "essential" businesses exempt from forced closures.
"Given the importance of safe transportation in addressing the coronavirus outbreak, we have an obligation to ensure that motor vehicles remain safe and are properly maintained," NADA President Peter Welch and AAI President John Bozzella wrote.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has been similarly approached, but a federal dictate would ensure uniform rules for dealerships across the U.S.
A significant number of states and cities have taken emergency action this month to force the closure of businesses deemed "nonessential," such as movie theatres, shopping malls and museums. By contrast, essential businesses, including healthcare facilities, pharmacies and grocery stories, are able to remain operational.
"Motor vehicles, both new and old," Welch and Bozzella wrote, "are critical to ensure that the public can get food and other necessities of life, as well as to continue to interact with one another in a manner consistent with public health officials’ recommendations.
"To that end, it is vital that vehicle repair, maintenance and sales facilities be considered essential operations when federal, state and local officials impose certain requirements due to the coronavirus outbreak."