Coronavirus and Cars: Can I Buy a Car or Have One Repaired in My State?

For car shoppers, the spread of COVID-19 or the coronavirus should scuttle any plans to drop by a crowded showroom or weekend tent sale. But with dealerships vacated amid stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, that’s hardly the scene at your local auto mall. With the vast majority of states placing broad restrictions on businesses deemed nonessential, the prospect — and process — of buying a car may vary depending on where you live.

Related: Coronavirus and Car Buying: What You Should Know

Confusion reigned when states began rolling out stay-at-home orders and business restrictions in mid-March to slow the virus’s spread. The crux of the issue was whether dealership sales operations represented so-called “essential” businesses exempt from state-mandated curtailment. Most states reference, to varying degrees, the Department of Homeland Security’s delineation of critical infrastructure. Such guidance, issued in memos on March 19 and March 28, offered little specific direction on automobile sales, but an update on April 17 added workers critical to vehicle sales among activities including vehicle repairs and maintenance. It’s the first time during the epidemic that DHS gave such specific direction on the subject, though the department noted that its memo should be taken as only guidance. The memo, DHS stated, “is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard. Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.”

As of early April, many states have adopted their own rules on whether dealer sales can remain open. The good news for shoppers in need of a new car during the pandemic? Most of them allow for some form of sales, whether it’s appointment-only showroom visitations or sales by phone or email with remote, socially distanced deliveries. DHS added the Department of Motor Vehicles to its list of critical infrastructure on March 28, ensuring the regulatory resources many states need to complete such sales.

Even the states least restrictive to vehicle sales are still generally imposing social distancing and other safeguards for all businesses — practices that align with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and many statewide dealer associations caution against going about business as usual. At the other end of the restriction spectrum are states like Pennsylvania, which has prohibited virtually all auto sales. And for many states in between, exact guidance remained unclear.

Where does your state fall in terms of dealership sales and service? We looked into current orders across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as guidance from statewide auto-dealer associations. It’s important to note that the information below is current at the time of reporting, but we’ll make our best effort to update it periodically until the pandemic subsides. We focus on statewide orders, so regional variations may exist due to orders from individual cities and counties imposing their own level of restriction. The information below shouldn’t be interpreted as legally binding, so please call your local dealership for more information.

In the interest of clarity, we’ve applied overarching terminology to terms that differ place to place but mean the same thing. “Stay at home” is a recurring theme in most statewide orders, so we use that for consistency’s sake even as some jurisdictions employ unique phrases like “shelter in place” or “safer at home.” In the same vein, we characterize state-imposed business designations as essential or nonessential — a common refrain, even though variations exist, from “critical infrastructure” to “life-sustaining retail.”

A final note: “Broad restrictions” on nonessential business, a phrase we use below, generally means such firms must close to the public and vacate their facilities. But, again, the vernacular varies. In nearly all cases, such businesses can remain operational with employees working from home or going on-site periodically to run minimum operations. As such, it’s usually a misnomer that states require such businesses, dealerships or otherwise, to cease all operations.

Alabama

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A statewide stay-at-home order that took effect April 4 deemed “automotive sales” an essential business allowed to remain open under its provision for infrastructure operations. What’s more, under its provision for essential retailers, the order lists “auto, farm equipment, bicycle, motorcycle, and boat supply and repair stores.” Asked for its current guidance, the Automobile Dealers Association of Alabama did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The stay-at-home order names automotive repair facilities under essential infrastructure operations.

When might this change?

The order ran through April 30. A “safer at home” order runs through May 15.

Alaska

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with restrictions. Alaska ordered residents statewide to stay at home beginning March 28, with a related order listing “auto supply, auto repair … and related facilities” as essential businesses that can remain open. But the order went on to say that any business able to maintain various social distancing requirements and limit gatherings to no more than 10 people, including employees, can remain open. Marten Martenson, a board member with the Alaska Auto Dealers Association, said the organization had passed along its interpretations of the order to dealers. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy unveiled a business reopening plan on April 24 that allows nonessential businesses to take reservations only (no walk-ins), fabric face coverings for employees, no more than 20 customers or 25% of maximum building occupancy (whichever is smaller), social distancing of at least 6 feet and more.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Under the March 27 memo, facilities that perform automotive repair and maintenance are considered essential.

When might this change?

The order was re-evaluated by April 21 and a reopen plan followed on April 24.

Arizona

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with restrictions. Arizona ordered residents statewide to stay at home on March 31, with a related March 23 order naming “auto repair and related facilities” as essential businesses allowed to remain open. It goes on to note that “distributors and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services” for various industries, including transportation, are also essential. Bobbi Sparrow, president of the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association, said in an email to Cars.com on April 6 that dealers “are able to sell vehicles,” though she didn’t elaborate on any restrictions beyond that. A governor’s order effective May 4 allowed sales as long as they followed state guidelines.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Under the March 23 order, automotive repair facilities are essential.

When might this change?

The stay-at-home order is in effect until May 15 unless modified.

Arkansas

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. As of this writing, Arkansas had yet to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, though the state has restricted various establishments, including schools, bars and restaurants, for traditional onsite activities. In an April 3 bulletin, the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association urged safe practices at dealerships, as “preventing the spread [of COVID-19] under the existing targeted response will definitely influence whether further business closures are necessary.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes.

When might this change?

It’s unclear. The April 6 guidance, updated to ease some restrictions May 4, noted effectiveness until further notice.

California

Are vehicle sales permitted?

It’s unclear. California was among the first states to order residents statewide to stay at home, mandating it on March 19. In a March 22 memo, the state named “automotive repair and maintenance facilities” and retailers involved in “auto supplies and repair” under its essential businesses allowed to remain open for onsite business, but no “related facilities” language accompanies either group as it does with other states’ orders.

The California New Car Dealers Association has some of the most extensive published guidance on the issue, however. In guidance updated April 3, CNCDA noted many local variances: Some jurisdictions explicitly bar dealer sales, but most “appear to allow sales in limited circumstances,” such as in-person sales to essential workers or general sales online with at-home delivery. Any dealer “that continues to operate a showroom open to the general public likely violates the statewide order and faces an increasing likelihood of enforcement action,” CNCDA warned, adding that such dealers “are at the greatest risk of being cited by local law enforcement.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes, as laid out in the March 22 memo.

When might this change?

It’s unclear. The March 19 memo noted effectiveness until further notice.

Colorado

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, but with tight restrictions. A statewide stay-at-home order took effect in Colorado on March 26. On April 1, related guidance from the state’s health department on nonessential business restrictions permitted “automobile online sales with no-touch delivery service” but barred “in-person retail sales.” In a March 26 letter, the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association concluded the order allows for “online orders and delivery,” but in-person sales “need to cease.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The April 1 guidelines name automobile supply and repair facilities as critical services.

When might this change?

An extension to Colorado’s stay-at-home order, originally effective through April 11, came on April 6. It now runs through May 26 unless modified.

Connecticut

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, but with tight restrictions. Connecticut’s statewide stay-home order, issued March 20, didn’t limit personal travel as severely as many other states’ orders have, but it placed broad restrictions on nonessential businesses beginning March 23. A follow-up order permitted nonessential retailers “to be staffed on site, provided that they may only offer remote ordering (e.g., phone, internet, mail, dropbox) and delivery or curbside pickup.” Still, statewide guidance last updated April 5 names “auto supply, repair, towing, and service” facilities, but not showrooms, among those that may remain open. Further clarification was issued April 10: Dealers can complete sales transactions in a service bay cleaned to CDC corona protocols, in a designated room cleaned to guidelines or at a consumer’s home or place of business.

Ann Munley, director of membership services at the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association, told us April 7 that sales departments “should not be open to the general public, but dealers may conduct transactions remotely or electronically,” including deliveries outside the dealership or in a designated room or service bay cleaned to CDC guidelines.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes, as laid out in the statewide guidelines.

When might this change?

Connecticut’s March 20 order runs through May 20 unless modified.

Delaware

Are vehicle sales permitted?

It appears so, though with moderate restrictions. Delaware issued back-to-back orders on March 22 — one requiring most residents statewide to stay at home, the other imposing broad restrictions on nonessential businesses. Both became effective March 24. Businesses that Delaware deemed essential, and thus allowed to stay open, included “automotive repair and maintenance facilities” and automotive “repair facilities or those engaged in the sale or distribution of equipment or parts necessary for the repair of automobiles.” But an expanded list posted by the state listed automobile dealerships among businesses that must not remain open.

The Delaware Automobile and Truck Dealers’ Association is advising that showrooms can remain open in certain circumstances.

“We have advised the dealers to follow the governor’s orders,” said Chip Sheridan, the association’s president, in an April 9 email to Cars.com. “Sales and service are open, but sales [are] by appointment only. Those appointments should not exceed two per half-hour. Additionally the governor has required all businesses place the CDC’s warning sign at all entrances and that we follow all guidelines.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes; automotive repair facilities are named as essential businesses.

When might this change?

Nonessential business closures are in effect until May 15 unless modified.

District of Columbia

Are vehicle sales permitted?

It’s unclear. Broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect March 25 in the District of Columbia, with a statewide stay-at-home order following on April 1. The former order names “auto repair/mechanic shops, auto supply stores, and related facilities” as essential business but doesn’t mention automotive sales. It might be a moot point, at least if you’re shopping for a new car, as the “District of Columbia itself no longer has any franchised dealers within the city boundaries,” said John O’Donnell, president of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association, on April 6.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The March 25 order names repair and maintenance facilities essential.

When might this change?

Orders calling for residents to stay at home and nonessential businesses to close both expire May 15 unless modified.

Florida

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A statewide stay-at-home order and broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect April 3, but the order adopted provisions from an earlier Miami-Dade County order that included “new and used automobile dealerships” under essential retail. On April 6, the Florida Automobile Dealers Association highlighted the Miami-Dade adoption but cautioned in a separate memo that dealerships should engage in the likes of remote lease returns, unsupervised test drives “where allowed by insurance” and remote new-vehicle deliveries.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Florida’s statewide guidance otherwise defers to the March 28 memo from the DHS that was updated April 17, which includes vehicle repair and maintenance as well as vehicle sales under essential critical infrastructure.

When might this change?

Florida’s order runs through May 4 unless modified.

Georgia

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. Initially, it was unclear; Georgia made a statewide stay-at-home order effective April 3 with broad restrictions on nonessential businesses. For essential entities, the order deferred to DHS’ March 28 memo regarding critical infrastructure, which was updated April 17 to include vehicle sales in addition to repair, maintenance and leasing and. In an April 2 notice, the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association noted that many parts of a dealership meet DHS’ definition of critical infrastructure. Sales were not addressed, but “arguments can be made that sales fit within the list of critical infrastructure services listed above,” GADA said. Even if sales fell under noncritical infrastructure, the association noted such operations might remain open under Georgia’s ruling for “minimum basic operations” so long as they employed 20 state-ordered measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The DHS memo calls vehicle repair and maintenance essential.

When might this change?

Georgia extended the order, originally slated to end April 13, on April 8. It ran through April 30.

Hawaii

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, but under varying restrictions. Hawaii enacted a statewide stay-at-home order, which included broad restrictions on nonessential businesses, on March 25. The order names “auto supply, auto repair and related facilities” as essential, but automotive retail isn’t named. Hawaii otherwise defers to DHS’ March 28 memo that was updated April 17 to include vehicle sales as essential, but dealers are also subject to varying regional guidance, according to the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association.

“Following HADA dealer requests to Hawaii’s county mayors who had issued their own emergency orders, three of [the] state’s four county mayors’ offices issued clarifications relating to auto sales in their counties,” said Dave Rolf, the group’s executive director, in an email to Cars.com on April 7. “One county allowed online auto sales with certain restrictions, one allowed sales by appointment only to meet critical customer needs, one mayor’s office set certain parameters for the auto sale that included social distancing guidelines and other parameters, and finally one county mayor allowed for business operations under CDC guidelines, with some restrictions.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Hawaii’s infrastructure order names automotive repair facilities as essential.

When might this change?

The stay-at-home order and attendant noncritical infrastructure closures are in effect until May 31.

Idaho

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with light restrictions. Idaho enacted a statewide stay-at-home order and broad restrictions on nonessential businesses on March 25, with the initial order specifying only “auto supply, auto repair and related facilities” among the essential businesses allowed to remain open without regard to sales. But under additional guidance updated April 2, the state advised that “sales should be allowed but must be done in compliance with the Social Distancing Requirements, and avoiding causing congregation of people.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Under the March 25 order, automotive repair facilities are considered essential.

When might this change?

The stay-at-home order and nonessential business closures went until May 1.

Illinois

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with moderate restrictions. A statewide stay-at-home order and broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect in Illinois on March 21, with the order noting “gas stations and auto supply, auto repair and related facilities” as essential. The text did not mention dealerships, but a document later posted by Illinois’ commerce department spells out that dealerships “remain open for car sales on an appointment-only basis. Showrooms must remain closed.” The Illinois Automobile Dealers Association reiterated such guidance on March 23, adding that dealers “may also continue to conduct sales activities online and by telephone.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Both the governor and state commerce department named automotive repair facilities as essential.

When might this change?

The March 21 order originally ran through April 7, but the state later extended it to May 30 unless modified.

Indiana

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A statewide stay-at-home order and broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect in Indiana on March 24. The order named “auto supply, auto repair … and related facilities” under its list of essential businesses but did not offer any guidance on vehicle sales; an update on April 6 added “auto sales” to the list of essential retail establishments.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The April 6 order maintains “auto supply [and] auto maintenance or repair” facilities under essential retail.

When might this change?

The April 6 order, which supersedes the March 24 order, was to run through May 23 unless modified.

Iowa

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. Iowa had yet to impose a statewide stay-at-home order or broad restrictions on nonessential businesses as of this writing, though schools and many businesses are under targeted restrictions. Among Iowa’s latest — and wide-ranging — list of business closures, issued April 6, car dealerships and repair facilities weren’t mentioned. Bruce Anderson, president of the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association, told Cars.com on April 7 that it’s also his understanding that Iowa isn’t imposing any current restrictions on sales or service, but dealers remain “subject to the general social distancing, [with] no gatherings of more than 10 persons and those type[s] of provisions.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The April 6 order did not mention automobile repair facilities.

When might this change?

The April 6 order runs through April 30 unless modified.

Kansas

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A statewide stay-at-home order and broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect on March 30, but the order deemed organizations that “manufacturer, distribute, sell, or maintain automobiles or automobile parts” essential. On March 28 — the day the order was signed — the Kansas Automobile Dealers Association issued guidance that interpreted sales as allowed, though not at full steam.

“We believe you can reopen your sales floor under today’s order, but it is not business as usual,” KADA said. “The general public outside of Essential Businesses are still under a ‘stay at home’ order and can only be out as allowed. This is still a general quarantine and if dealers abuse it, there will be consequences.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The statewide order calls automobile maintenance facilities essential.

When might this change?

The March 30 order ran through May 1.

Kentucky

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Only under strict circumstances. Two orders apply: One, which took effect March 23, imposed broad restrictions on nonessential retail establishments; the other, which took effect March 26, amplified the list and added a statewide recommendation for residents to stay home. Dealerships “may provide repair, parts and service, but showrooms must close,” the March 23 order said; the March 26 order didn’t materially change that. In guidance dated March 27, the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association noted that “sales departments and showrooms must be closed to the public” and dealers should only sell cars “in full compliance” with CDC guidelines. Deliveries can occur in “open service reception lanes,” outside the dealership or at a remote location, KADA says.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The March 26 order deems “auto supply, auto repair … and related facilities” as life-sustaining.

When might this change?

The orders are in effect as long as Kentucky is under a state of emergency.

Louisiana

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. On April 2, Louisiana extended its statewide stay-at-home order and broad restrictions on nonessential businesses, which took effect March 23. The new order adopts DHS’ March 28 framework that was updated April 17 names “automotive repair, maintenance, and transportation equipment manufacturing and distribution facilities” as critical infrastructure, as well as “workers critical to the manufacturing, distribution, sales, rental, leasing, repair, and maintenance of vehicles.” In commentary on March 22, the Louisiana Auto Dealers Association noted that it “makes sense that vehicle sales departments can remain open under the restricted category of businesses that are ‘nonessential’ but not closed, as set out in Section 5 of the Order,” LADA said — an apparent reference to a provision in the March 23 order that says some nonessential businesses named may still operate at minimum scale with proper precautions.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes, per DHS guidelines.

When might this change?

The extension runs through May 15 unless modified.

Maine

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with tight restrictions. Broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect in Maine on March 25, followed by a statewide stay-at-home order effective April 2. Under a separate list of definitions for essential and nonessential businesses dated April 3, Maine lists “automobile repair” as essential but “auto dealerships” as nonessential. But in a reopening plan dated April 28, a governor’s order listed car dealerships as essential businesses due to reopen May 1.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes, according to Maine’s guidance on essential businesses.

When might this change?

Maine’s original curtailment on nonessential businesses extended through April 8, but the stay-at-home order, which extended many earlier provisions, now runs through May 31 unless modified.

Maryland

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with some restrictions. Maryland placed broad restrictions on nonessential businesses on March 23 and issued a statewide stay-at-home order a week later on March 30. Both orders generally deferred to DHS’ guidance on critical infrastructure, which names vehicle leasing and repair activities as essential but remains unclear on sales. In a March 23 memo posted by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association, the governor’s office of legal counsel clarified that “auto and truck dealerships” constitute facilities that are not required to remain closed. Such dealerships remain open for “all departments,” MADA concluded in a March 24 note. But Peter Kitzmiller, president of the association, told Cars.com on April 8 that dealers are “operating sales by appointment only.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes, per DHS guidelines.

When might this change?

The stay-at-home order, which extends restrictions on nonessential businesses, remains effective (unless modified) until Maryland’s state of emergency and proclamation of a catastrophic health emergency have ended.

Massachusetts

Are vehicle sales permitted?

It’s unclear. Effective March 24, Massachusetts initiated a statewide stay-at-home advisory and broad restrictions on nonessential businesses, with an extension to business curtailment issued on March 31. The same day as the March 31 extension, the state issued an extensive list of essential services that may continue operating. Among them are “automotive repair, maintenance, and transportation equipment manufacturing and distribution facilities,” as well as “auto supplies and repair” and automotive leasing operations, but not automotive sales apart from leasing.

Asked for guidance, the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association did not immediately respond, but a neighboring state offers some clues. When New Hampshire announced its own stay-at-home order two days after Massachusetts’ order took effect, the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association noted that New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu “indicated that the order closely follows the Massachusetts advisory. This is positive news as both sales and service continue to operate in Massachusetts.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes, according to the March 31 list of essential services.

When might this change?

The March 31 extension runs through May 15 unless modified.

Michigan

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with tight restrictions. Michigan has been on a statewide stay-at-home order with broad restrictions on nonessential business since March 24, with an extension issued April 9. Originally, Michigan allowed for auto sales only under very narrow circumstances — for example, replacing a totaled vehicle for an essential worker. But the state’s April 9 revision broadened such permissions.

The new order now includes as essential any employees “at motor vehicle dealerships who are necessary to facilitate remote and electronic sales or leases, or to deliver motor vehicles to customers, provided that showrooms remain closed to in-person traffic.”

In a related statement, the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association said it “acknowledges that vehicle sales [and] leasing are also essential activities and can be conducted safely through remote and electronic sales or leases in accordance with CDC guidelines. Dealers look forward to continuing to serve their customers safely and efficiently, and in new and innovative ways in these challenging times.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The April 9 extension names “auto supplies and repair stores” as essential.

When might this change?

The April 9 update also extended the original order, slated to end April 13. It now runs through May 15 unless modified.

Minnesota

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with moderate restrictions. A statewide stay-at-home order took effect March 27, with exemptions to work in critical sectors; an extension with some modifications came April 8. Such sectors include “automobile … sales that are necessary to allow for essential travel, when conducted by appointment,” with various health and social distancing guidelines met. Curbside pickup for businesses was permitted beginning May 4, but it did not detail auto retailers specifically. On its website, the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association interprets this to mean “limited sales are considered critical services and may continue during this time frame.”

In a related document, the association states that “essential travel,” as noted in the statewide order, is defined broadly and thus does not require special verification. Customer appointments “will likely vary based on risk tolerance,” MADA says, going on to suggest staffing strategies to adhere to social distancing and crowd limitations amid sales by appointment.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Critical sectors include “maintenance and repair shops” in the transportation sector, Minnesota’s order says.

When might this change?

Minnesota extended its order on April 8; it now runs to May 18 unless modified.

Mississippi

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A statewide shelter-in-place order with broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect April 3, but it referenced a prior order stipulating essential businesses that counts “automotive sales and repair” among the entities exempt. In a video posted amid the shelter-in-place order, Marty Milstead, president of the Mississippi Automobile Dealers Association, said dealerships can remain open “for sales and service” and “continue to operate as you see fit,” albeit following guidelines to protect individuals involved.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Automotive repair is an essential business under Mississippi’s orders.

When might this change?

The shelter-in-place order and nonessential business restrictions ran through April 27.

Missouri

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with light restrictions. A statewide stay-at-home order took effect April 6. But in a rare step, broad restrictions on nonessential businesses did not accompany it. Related guidance from Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services noted that nonessential businesses may remain open as long as they follow stricter guidelines around occupancy, social distancing and sanitation. Meanwhile, the state points to DHS guidelines for essential businesses, which name vehicle leasing but not traditional sales. Missouri’s DHSS says such businesses, even if essential, must still observe restrictions on occupancy. Either way, nothing in the April 6 order or its related guidance barred dealerships from selling cars. Asked for its current guidance, the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Vehicle repair and maintenance is considered essential, per DHS guidance.

When might this change?

Missouri’s stay-at-home order initially ran through April 24, but it was updated April 16; the extension now runs through May 3.

Montana

Are vehicle sales permitted?

It’s unclear. A statewide stay-at-home order with broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect March 28, but the order only counted “auto supply, auto repair and related facilities” as essential businesses and operations, with no guidance on vehicle sales. A related FAQ offered little insight, reiterating the same language without mentioning sales one way or the other. Asked for guidance, the Montana Automobile Dealers Association did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The stay-at-home order notes vehicle repair facilities as essential.

When might this change?

An extension to the original order, set to expire April 10, came on April 7 for an April 24 expiration.  It was extended a second time to April 26 for individuals and April 27 for businesses.

Nebraska

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. As of this writing, Nebraska is not under a statewide stay-at-home order. The state has imposed mandatory crowd limits for certain businesses and a raft of recommendations otherwise, but current guidance from the state’s health department does not mention any delineation of nonessential businesses or curtailments thereof. Asked for guidance on sales operations, the Nebraska New Car & Truck Dealers Association did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Nothing in the health department’s document, nor recent orders by the governor, impacts vehicle repair facilities.

When might this change?

Current guidance from the state’s health department runs through April 30 unless modified.

Nevada

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, on a limited basis, but details were unclear. Nevada mandated broad restrictions on nonessential businesses on March 20, followed March 31 by a statewide stay-at-home order. An addendum to the nonessential business restrictions calls “auto supply, automobile repair facilities and tire shops” essential without mentioning sales operations, but a related FAQ dated March 27 notes that auto services including “sales on a limited basis” are considered essential. What exactly that means is unclear; asked for comment, the Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Nevada included automobile repair facilities in its addendum of essential businesses.

When might this change?

The order restricting nonessential business originally ran through April 16, but the stay-at-home order extended that to May 15 unless modified.

New Hampshire

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A statewide stay-at-home order with broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect March 27, but an addendum on business designations named “automotive sales, repair and maintenance facilities” essential. Pete McNamara, president of the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association, noted in a March 26 blog post that the order deemed auto sales essential but implored dealers that it “does not mean business as usual.”

Such designation “comes with a great responsibility,” McNamara wrote, urging dealers to “implement serious plans and procedures to protect your employees and customers from being infected by the virus. … If automotive businesses abuse this privilege, COVID-19 will continue to spread and more stringent measures would need to be put in place.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes, per New Hampshire’s addendum on business designations.

When might this change?

The stay-at-home order and restrictions on nonessential businesses run through May 31 unless modified.

New Jersey

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with tight restrictions. A statewide stay-at-home order and broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect March 21. Among the essential businesses exempt from such restrictions, the order counted “car dealerships, but only to provide auto maintenance and repair services, and auto mechanics.” But in a March 30 press conference, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued clarifications that the state “would allow auto dealerships to conduct online or remote sales and authorize dealers to deliver vehicles directly to their customers or to arrange for curbside or service-lane pickup at a dealership.”

Following the press conference, the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers posted similar guidance, noting that “limited dealership sales could resume immediately” but “must be conducted online and remotely, with by-appointment, contactless delivery at the dealership service lane or the customer’s home location.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The March 21 order considers maintenance and repairs essential.

When might this change?

It’s unclear. New Jersey’s state of emergency, declared March 9, has no end date, and the March 21 order is in effect unless modified.

New Mexico

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with tight restrictions. A statewide advisory for residents to stay home took effect March 24, though its language fell short of an outright order. Broad restrictions on nonessential businesses accompanied the advisory, which counted only “automobile repair facilities … and retailers who generate the majority of their revenue from the sale of automobile or bike repair products” as essential. An April 6 update that extended and clarified the order added a provision for sales, noting that “new and used automobile dealers may sell cars through internet or other audiovisual means but they may not allow customers in showrooms.”

The New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association spelled out what that looks like. In a March 27 memo, NMADA noted that dealership sales departments “are not to be open to the general public.” Internet sales are permissible, the association said, but “no customer sales interactions are to occur at the dealership. … Vehicle delivery, document signatures, customer identification verifications, etc. shall only occur at the customers residence or place of business.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Both the March 24 and April 6 orders include automobile repair facilities as essential.

When might this change?

The March 24 order said it would remain as long as New Mexico’s state of emergency was in effect, but an April 22 announcement named May 15 as the new expiration date unless modified.

New York

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with tight restrictions. Broad restrictions on nonessential businesses ramped up on March 20 and again on March 22. Early guidance only counted automotive repair facilities among the essential entities exempted, but current guidelines include “automotive sales conducted remotely or electronically, with in-person vehicle return and delivery by appointment only.” As of this writing, such guidance carried a most recent update of April 7.

It seems the sales addition came early on. In a March 26 letter to its members, the New York State Automobile Dealers Association noted an update on state guidance for essential businesses that meant dealers could “sell automobiles remotely or electronically to any consumer.” Vehicle returns and deliveries could occur by appointment only, however, and dealers could neither “keep the showroom open” nor “allow customers to test-drive cars,” NYSADA said.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Past or present, New York’s guidance consistently names automotive repair facilities as essential.

When might this change?

On April 6, restrictions on nonessential businesses were extended to April 29. It is currently extended to May 15.

North Carolina

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. North Carolina enacted a statewide stay-at-home order with broad restrictions to nonessential business on March 27. The order took effect March 30, but it exempts organizations involved in “auto supply, sales, tire and auto repair” among a list of essential businesses. A March 27 post by the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association reiterates this.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The order considers auto repair facilities essential.

When might this change?

The March 30 order runs through May 8 unless modified.

North Dakota

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. North Dakota is not under a statewide stay-at-home order as of this writing, and current restrictions on schools and some businesses don’t impact automobile dealerships. As of this writing, the Automobile Dealers Association of North Dakota posted on its COVID-19 portal that both essential and nonessential businesses remain open.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The state’s latest order restricting some businesses does not mention dealerships or repair facilities.

When might this change?

The current statewide order impacting some businesses, but not dealerships, ran through May 1.

Ohio

Are vehicle sales permitted?

It appears so, but restrictions are unclear. Ohio’s health department director issued a statewide stay-at-home order with broad restrictions on nonessential businesses to take effect March 23, with an extension coming April 6. Under its list of essential businesses, the March 23 order named auto supply and repair facilities but did not give clear guidance on vehicle sales. Still, the order provided separately that residents could leave their homes to procure, among other things, “necessary supplies and service” including “automobile supplies (including dealers, parts, supplies, repair and maintenance).”

The Ohio Automobile Dealers Association identified that section, among other parts of the order, in a March 25 letter that argued “certain sales and leasing activities at franchised new motor vehicle dealers are essential services … provided these limited activities are conducted in a manner that protects the general public, our customers and our employees.”

Asked if the state had responded to the letter, OADA did not immediately clarify. But other communications echo the association’s assertion. In a March 22 bulletin, OADA said it “believes that this Order permits dealers to be open for sales and service functions.” Two days later, the association posted another bulletin that it would “stand ready to help those Ohioans who experience automotive repair issues and if necessary, sell customers vehicles in accordance with the letter and ‘spirit’ of the Order.” The association went on to recommend moving to appointment-only sales and implementing home delivery whenever possible.

Some clarification came in an April 6 extension of Ohio’s stay-at-home order. The extension repeated the guidance on essential facilities — vehicle repairs, not necessarily sales — but expanded the provision that residents could leave to procure supplies to include “automobile and boat supplies (including showrooms, dealers, parts, supplies, repair, delivery of boats and vehicles, shipping and maintenance).”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes, under both the March 23 order and April 6 extension.

When might this change?

The April 6 extension runs through May 29 unless noted.

Oklahoma

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with light restrictions. Oklahoma ordered broad restrictions on nonessential businesses and a statewide stay-at-home order for vulnerable populations on March 24. Extensions to the business restrictions, set to expire on April 16, came on April 1 — as did supplementary guidance that called “motor vehicle and parts dealers” essential so long as they “publicly post and adhere to social distancing guidelines in order to remain open” as well as providing delivery options and other safeguards.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Both the March 24 and April 1 orders note adherence to DHS guidelines on essential infrastructure, and that includes automotive repair and maintenance facilities, according to a March 28 memo from the agency.

When might this change?

The April 1 extension for nonessential business restrictions runs through May 6 unless modified.

Oregon

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A statewide stay-at-home order took effect on March 24, but broad restrictions only deemed a subset of businesses  nonessential. The state’s COVID-19 resource page notes that Oregon “has not issued an essential business list. The state, instead, has provided a list of business categories that should stop operating because the nature of these businesses makes it impossible to adhere to social distancing protocol.”

That list includes businesses ranging from barbershops to skating rinks, but car dealerships and repair facilities are not among them. Asked for its current guidance on sales operations, the Oregon Auto Dealers Association did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Oregon’s list of businesses that must close does not include vehicle repair facilities.

When might this change?

The March 24 order had no end date; it’s “in effect until terminated by the governor.”

Pennsylvania

Are vehicle sales permitted?

No. Broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect March 21, with a statewide stay-at-home order coming April 1. Guidance that accompanied the March 21 order explicitly noted that automobile dealers may not continue physical operations. Other states have issued similar guidance, but Pennsylvania’s opposition to auto sales of any kind appears more entrenched, reportedly because of in-person notary requirements. In guidance issued when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed the order curtailing nonessential business, the Pennsylvania Automotive Association advised that dealers “may not continue physical operations” and the association was “looking to get further clarification regarding internet sales and delivery.”

Evidently, such permission has yet to come.

“At [the] present time, sales — even internet sales — are not permitted in Pennsylvania,” said Melanie Stine, PAA’s director of communications, in an email to Cars.com on April 9. “We continue to work with the Governor’s office on a solution to assist Pennsylvanians in need of replacement transportation during this difficult time.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Pennsylvania’s guidance on essential businesses includes automotive maintenance and repair facilities.

When might this change?

Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order runs through May 8 unless modified, but the order curtailing nonessential businesses said it would remain in place “until further notice.”

Rhode Island

Are vehicle sales permitted?

It appears so, though guidance isn’t fully clear. A statewide stay-at-home order with broad restrictions on nonessential business took effect March 30. Related guidance on the order lists “car and other motor vehicle dealerships” as noncritical retail but grants exceptions “for auto repair and by appointment only.” The phrase seems to indicate, if the appointments apply to sales and not repairs, that limited sales operations might be permissible. Asked for guidance, the Rhode Island Automobile Dealers Association did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Under the March 30 order, auto repairs are considered critical retail business.

When might this change?

The original stay-at-home order ran until April 13 but, as of this writing, Rhode Island’s health department had posted on its website that the order was extended to May 8 — an action which coincides with  Rhode Island’s recent extension on its COVID-19 state of emergency to the same date.

South Carolina

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. Broad restrictions on nonessential businesses ramped up in early April, with a statewide stay-at-home order taking effect April 7. South Carolina’s list of restricted businesses didn’t include any automotive operations, but the state also deferred guidance to DHS’ March 28 memo that was updated April 17, which lists automotive repair, maintenance, sales and leasing operations as essential.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes, per DHS guidelines.

When might this change?

The April 7 order, as well as preceding orders on nonessential business restrictions, were in effect for the duration of South Carolina’s state of emergency, up to May 4.

South Dakota

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. Although some counties are under a stay-at-home order for vulnerable populations, South Dakota does not have a statewide stay-at-home order or broad restrictions on nonessential businesses as of this writing. Asked for its current guidance, the South Dakota Auto Dealers Association did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. As of this writing, nothing in the governor’s coronavirus-related orders suggests any curtailment on vehicle repairs.

When might this change?

The governor’s state of emergency, declared March 13, extends to April 12 unless modified.

Tennessee

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A stay-at-home advisory and broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect March 31; the advisory became an order on April 2. Considered together, the measures name automotive “repair services and related facilities” as essential without any specific mention of sales. But similar to Ohio’s order, it also labels “obtaining necessary services or supplies” as a permissible reason to leave the house, with “automobile supplies (including dealers, parts, supplies, repair and maintenance)” among such services and supplies.

Amid such orders, the Tennessee Independent Automobile Dealers Association said on April 2 that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee had “announced that auto dealers are considered ‘essential businesses.’” The directive “means that you are allowed to stay open and assist consumers with their automotive needs,” TIADA added, though it followed with recommendations for sanitation and social distancing.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The March 31 order names automotive repair services as essential.

When might this change?

The order runs through May 29 unless modified.

Texas

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A statewide stay-at-home order with broad restrictions on nonessential business took effect April 2, but refers mostly to DHS’ March 28 guidance on essential businesses, aside from a few non-automotive exceptions. Such guidance includes vehicle leasing, repairs and maintenance as essential activities, but it says nothing specific about dealer sales. Following the order, the Texas Automobile Dealers Association urged on its website that if orders from a local jurisdiction “allow a dealership to sell, you should continue to do so pending clarification regarding statewide sales.” The association was seeking clarification from the state “for all automobile dealerships as an essential service,” TADA added. “This would clarify the ability for dealerships to sell vehicles in Texas.”

As of an April 17 governor’s order, “essential businesses” were permitted to reopen April 24 in accordance with DHS guidelines.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes, per DHS guidance.

When might this change?

The order expires April 30 unless modified.

Utah

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A stay-at-home directive took effect March 30, though it fell short of a definitive order. The order placed a number of advisories on businesses statewide with a handful of essential entities exempt, but it didn’t impose any broad restrictions. Craig Bickmore, executive director of the New Car Dealers of Utah, told Cars.com on April 9 that it was his understanding that Utah’s current orders do not impose any restrictions on auto sales or service beyond current CDC safeguards.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Nothing in the stay-at-home directive signaled otherwise.

When might this change?

Utah’s stay-at-home directive runs through May 1.

Vermont

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, but with moderate restrictions. A stay-at-home order and broad restrictions on nonessential businesses took effect in late March. In a resource page for the order, the state allows that “auto dealers may continue to sell vehicles if they implement policies that eliminate in-person customer interactions.”

That “includes closing dealer showrooms,” the state continues — a signal that Vermont likely allows online sales with vehicles delivered in a socially distanced way. Asked for its interpretation, the Vermont Vehicle and Automotive Distributors Association did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Vermont’s guidance says that “auto repair shops may remain open but should implement ways of doing business that reduce in-person operations as much as possible.”

When might this change?

An April 10 extension came to the original order, set to expire April 15. It now runs through May 15 unless modified.

Virginia

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. Two orders — one imposing some restrictions on nonessential retail businesses, the other ordering residents statewide to stay at home — took effect in late March. The order for business restrictions names “automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities” among essential retailers that may remain open, with a separate list of businesses that must close. Dealer sales aren’t named in either group, but the order permits retail businesses not highlighted to continue operating as long as they adhere to limits on occupancy, social distancing and sanitation.

In a March 23 letter, the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association noted that the statewide business order “permits service and sales departments to remain open at Virginia’s franchised new car and truck dealerships,” but compliance with its requirements “is paramount” for showrooms and finance departments.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The order considers automotive repair facilities as essential retail.

When might this change?

The restrictions on nonessential retailers run through April 23, while the stay-at-home order goes until June 10, both unless modified.

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Washington

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes, with restrictions. A statewide stay-at-home order took effect March 23, followed two days later by broad restrictions on nonessential business. Under accompanying guidance that was last updated March 31, the state considers “limited sales and leasing activities” at dealerships essential only under a handful of particular scenarios. One is if such sales close a transaction that was pending before the March 23 order; another is if dealers are replacing a car that’s totaled or otherwise “impractical to repair” due to damage. Dealers can also extend expiring leases or provide transportation for essential workers — if those workers have “no other means of transportation,” the state says. All told, the barriers are significant.

Even if one or more of those criteria are met, an involved process need still occur to sell the car. The dealership must take the visit by appointment only, scheduled remotely. Only one employee can be present in the showroom or dealer office at any time, Washington state stipulates, and that worker is only allowed to be on-site during the sale itself. Finally, the “buyer must certify that the purchase is essential for one of the reasons provided above; and all activities must be conducted in a manner that complies with social distancing and sanitation measures established” in the order.

A plan to reopen the state in four phases was unveiled May 1, and DHS-defined essential businesses were listed in the first phase.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. State guidance considers “automotive repair facilities” essential.

When might this change?

The state on April 2 extended the March 23 order, which originally was slated to end in early April; it now runs through May 31 unless modified.

West Virginia

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A statewide stay-at-home order with broad restrictions on nonessential business took effect March 24. The order includes “automobile dealers and other suppliers” on its list of essential businesses in the transportation sector. The West Virginia Automobile Dealers Association reiterates this provision on its website, noting that “automobile dealers were deemed essential” in the order but advising “all dealerships to abide by local health department recommendations and continue utilizing smart mitigation practices.”

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. The order included “auto repair” under essential transportation, too.

When might this change?

The order is in effect “until terminated by subsequent executive order.” A subsequent order issued April 30 loosened the stay-at-home restrictions to “safer at home” guidelines beginning May 4.

Wisconsin

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. A statewide stay-at-home order with broad restrictions on nonessential business took effect March 25, but the order named “auto and motorcycle supply, repair and sales” under its list of essential businesses. In its observations on the designation, the Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association concluded that it “means that you are allowed to stay open during the duration of the order.” Asked if it had any additional guidance beyond that, WATDA did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Automotive repairs are considered essential business under the order.

When might this change?

The order runs through May 26 unless modified.

Wyoming

Are vehicle sales permitted?

Yes. As of this writing, Wyoming is under targeted business restrictions (on restaurants and bars, for example) but not a statewide stay-at-home order or broad mandates for nonessential businesses. Nothing singles out car dealerships among recent coronavirus-related orders from Wyoming’s governor or state health department. Asked for its current guidance, the Wyoming Automobile Dealers Association did not immediately respond.

Are vehicle repairs allowed?

Yes. Nothing singles out automotive repair or maintenance operations among recent coronavirus-related orders in Wyoming.

When might this change?

Wyoming’s current state of emergency, declared March 13, is in effect “until such time it is rescinded.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated May 4, 2020, with updated information for state guidelines.

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