Tuesday, 24 March 2020 00:11

Can I Buy a Car Under a Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place Order or Business Closures?

Written by Kelsey Mays, Cars.com
Can I Buy a Car Under a Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place Order or Business Closures? Paul Dolan for Cars.com


Car shoppers, and particularly those who need a car---say their lease is up, or their current car gets totaled---will no doubt wonder: If you’re in an area that’s ordering nonessential businesses to close or residents to stay home, can you still buy a car?

Amid the COVID-19 epidemic, many jurisdictions are ordering residents to stay home, nonessential businesses to shut down or both. Cities from Dallas to St. Louis are joining a growing list of states---California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and probably more by the time you read this---to implement such orders.


So, can you buy a car or not? The short answer: It depends where you live, and---at least for right now---whatever action your local dealership has decided to take.

Can You Leave the House to Go Car Shopping?


This is a thorny subject. With shelter-in-place (more recently dubbed “stay-at-home”) orders in effect across various cities, counties or states, a trip to the local auto mall may seem extraneous.


Indeed, Illinois’ stay-at-home order allows residents to leave under only a few circumstances, among them tasks “essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members,” or “to obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members.”


Such language is similar to orders in other jurisdictions, and it begs the question: Does car shopping violate that? It depends, but one clue involves whether the state specifically bars the operation of vehicle showrooms in light of COVID-19---an issue we’ll tackle next. 


That said, such policies are evolving in real time across the country, so check with your jurisdiction for details. The good news? Much of the shopping process can still occur from home.

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