Gov. Wolf Denies the Essential Service of Auto Sales in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Independent Automobile Dealers Association calls upon Gov. Wolf to exempt essential auto retailers from business closure order.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (April 3, 2020) — Independent and franchise retailers in Pennsylvania and across the country have been and remain essential businesses by fulfilling the personal transportation needs of those who maintain our nation’s critical infrastructure — first responders, medical personnel, grocery and pharmacy workers, delivery and warehouse personnel, water treatment and electric workers, and so many more. These people perform the tasks that are vital to maintaining the necessities of life for everyone.

On March 31, 2020, Governor Wolf denied the Pennsylvania Independent Automobile Dealers Association (PIADA) waiver request for the independent automotive retail industry to remain as an essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a disaster for Pennsylvania consumers and dealers seeking to fulfill their civic duty to help consumers who have an urgent need to lease or purchase vehicles.

“We are asking our leaders in Pennsylvania to recognize that critical infrastructure workers will need both new and used vehicles regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Reg Evans, Executive Director of the PIADA. “What may be less obvious is that our general citizenry may need a new or used vehicle at this time as well. We have our neighboring states allowing their dealers in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Ohio to sell vehicles, subject to social distancing public health guidelines.”

Evans said millions of Pennsylvanians drive older vehicles, and don’t have the wherewithal to buy a brand new vehicle. They experience accidents or have major service issues that render their vehicles not worth repairing.

“These individuals still need to get to the grocery store and make essential doctor or hospital trips,” Evans said. “Denying critical infrastructure workers and general citizens the ability to purchase either a new or used vehicle at this time puts the safety of all Pennsylvanians at risk. We saw firsthand, miles of vehicles lining a Pittsburgh highway to get to a free food distribution center. If your vehicle is rendered inoperable and unrepairable, you can literally be in a life-threating situation.”

PIADA also supports the national #KeepAutoOpen movement as well as the formal request sent to the Department of Homeland Security that all automotive sales and leasing and repair centers be deemed “essential businesses” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf has ordered automotive retailers closed to sales, while open for service repairs and finance and rental cars. PIADA has sent several formal requests to the Wolf administration and state legislators to allow an exemption for automotive retailers statewide. Despite this effort, the request has been denied, leaving the association no alternative but to take this important issue to the public.

Prior to the closure order first issued March 16 PIADA members and dealerships here and across the country, both franchised and independent, were exercising common sense measures to combat the spread of this virus. They purchased used vehicle inventory at wholesale online auctions, enhanced cleaning for cars and their facilities, implemented social distancing and work-from-home rules where applicable. Also, when appropriate they have closed sales over the phone and online — keeping in-person iterations with clients to a bare minimum. Closing a car sale in Pennsylvania requires a physical signature on a document, and dealerships have developed procedures for this that keeps social distancing a priority.

“In the days prior to the retail auto sales closure orders from Gov. Wolf in Pennsylvania, we heard from members who sold a car to a nurse whose vehicle’s head gasket blew rendering the vehicle not worth repairing,” Evans said. “Another dealer told us about a warehouse supervisor whose vehicle was totaled in an accident. Both needed a new vehicle to get to their essential jobs the next day. Automotive retailers provide an essential and necessary service to critical infrastructure workers and the general citizenry.”

About MidAtlantic Regional Independent Automobile Dealers Association

The MidAtlantic IADA, parent group of the PIADA, is an association of independent automobile retailers in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, and is a member association of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association. The association has been serving retailers, wholesale vehicle auctions, and vendors to those industries since 1955.


Reg Evans

Executive Director

MidAtlantic IADA


1501 North Front Street

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17102

Release ID: 88952708