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Bay Area Counties Announce New Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Rules to Allow for Online Vehicle Sales

Hao Nguyen /
hands typing on laptop

On March 31, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties and the city of Berkeley have replaced their existing “shelter in place” orders with stricter guidelines and extended the order through May 3. This revised order clarifies the definition of an “Essential Business” as follows (emphasis added):

f. For the purposes of this Order, “Essential Businesses” are …

vii. Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair (including, but not limited to, for cars, trucks, motorcycles and motorized scooters), and automotive dealerships, but only for the purpose of providing autosupply and auto-repair services (and not, by way of example, car sales or car washes). This subparagraph (vii) does not restrict the on-line purchase of automobiles if they are delivered to a residence or Essential Business

For the new Santa Clara County shelter in place order, please go here. The other five counties (and the city of Berkeley) have adopted similar language in their orders, which can be found on their respective websites.

What Do These Stay-At-Home Rules Mean For Dealerships?

Dealers in these counties (and the city of Berkeley) likely are allowed to sell vehicles but only if the transaction is completed online and the vehicle is delivered to the customer remotely (i.e., offsite delivery). Before conducting any remote vehicle sales, please make sure to review your online sales and remote deliveries policies and procedures and consult with competent counsel.   

What If My Dealership Doesn’t Operate in These Counties?

Unfortunately, these new orders do not affect the counties not named above. Our conservative position holds to not conduct vehicle sales unless you can show that exigent circumstances exist for the vehicle sale, and the sale is conducted online/telephonically and with a remote delivery. However, the silver lining is that elected officials are coming to their senses and slowly adapting their orders to reflect it.

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