Auctions Strategize on Coronavirus

By Jeffrey Bellant March 17, 2020 606



Leaders from the National Auto Auction Association, Manheim, ADESA and several independent auctions, held a conference call on March 16 to discuss the continuing challenges of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Auto auctions who move ahead with physical sales should take certain precautions in light of ever-changing guidelines over COVID-19 (coronavirus), according the NAAA’s general counsel.

Frank Hackett, CEO of NAAA, said auctions have asked NAAA to help facilitate weekly discussions about issues related to the coronavirus and restrictions placed on businesses.

He said the challenge for auctions to knowing what restrictions apply to them or how to comply.

“So, we’ve been interpreting a lot of the governors’ directives and using our counsel to do that,” Hackett said. “We have to look at that and figure what’s the best way to respond to that.”

NAAA General Counsel Thomas Lynch III released a letter about the call, as well as news that came after the call.

“The guidelines on this issue have been changing from day-to-day and hour-to-hour and the Center for Disease Control issued new guidelines on Sunday (March 15) recommending that gatherings of 50 or more people should be postponed or canceled for the next eight weeks or so to prevent the spread of the (coronavirus),” Lynch wrote.

He added that guidelines have become more restrictive over time, including restrictions for some businesses to cease operations.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement shortly after the call indicated that authorities ranging from local and state police to the National Guard would be enforcing his executive order prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people.

Other states have issued similar restrictions.

Hackett explained that auctions don’t always fall into certain categories that are part of a state’s restrictions.

For example, an auction may have a restaurant inside its facility that falls under a restriction, even if the auction itself doesn’t.

Lynch offered recommendations for physical sales.

“… if you do proceed with the sale, there are certain precautions you should take that should include identification of those areas in your facility where you may have a congregation of people and the risk may be the greatest of potential exposure,” he wrote. “Those locations would include your lobby or areas where badges are issued, lunchrooms, bathrooms and even in the lanes, if you are conducting actual auction sales and not virtual sales. You may want to consider having extra sanitation and wash stations, more toilet facilities, and a means of identifying where the greatest risks may exist in your business, whether it is with customers, vendors, employees or independent contractors.”

Lynch also advised auctions to make sure they protect themselves legally in the wake of these restrictions.

“With this as the background, we recommend to our member auctions the following: if you are considering conducting a sale in the upcoming weeks at which more than 50 people maybe in' attendance, you would be well-advised to consult with counsel and/or your state and local regulatory officials to ensure that you understand the current state of directives that are applicable to your location,” he wrote.

NAAA also encourages auction leaders to make sure to maintain a diary or journal to record or document conversations with local and state officials when they speak with them. That should include the day, time and name of the person the auction official contacted, as well as the auction staffer who spoke with the official and what was said.

Hackett said NAAA will continue to provide updates on coronavirus and offer information for auctions.


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Last modified on Wednesday, 25 March 2020 15:43