Toronto, Ontario — Organizations and provincial governments across the country are banding together to protect the operational status of auto repair facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, Prince Edward Island’s government asked non-essential businesses to close after two coronavirus cases were confirmed in the province, adding that facilities such as grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and auto repair shops remain open.
The province defined ‘essential services’ as “services that the interruption of which would endanger the life, health or personal safety of the whole or part of the population.” It also deemed industrial manufacturers an essential service.
Other provinces were quick to follow. New Brunswick declared a state of emergency on Thursday and classified auto repair facilities as essential services to remain open.
The Automotive Retailers Association was rallying for the same decision in B.C. on Friday.
Other Canadian organizations are taking preemptive measures to assure security for auto repair shops amid the virus. While Ontario has ordered all restaurant to close all dine-in options, not much has been said regarding the operational status of auto repair shops amid the province’s state of emergency.
On Thursday, the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada) issued a statement arguing that auto parts and vehicle repairs are essential services, especially in a pandemic.
“The designation of businesses in the aftermarket supply chain as Essential Businesses is critical during this public health crisis,” reads the organization’s statemet. “The aftermarket industry provides the public and organizations, including those that deliver emergency services and transport goods and people, with essential vehicle servicing. This ensures the continued provision and delivery of already designated essential services, including fire and paramedic services, and the mobility of essential services workers.”
Despite the call-to-action, AIA Canada also said the capacity of auto repair shops to deliver essential vehicle servicing is dependent on their abilit to procure vehicle replacement parts and supplies from the aftermarket supply chain—especially with big automakers like Honda, General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler temporarily suspending North American production.
U.S. auto repair advocacy organizations have also been rallying for auto repair facilities to obtain clear permission to stay open after the New Jersey state government issued an order last week stating, “Auto repair shops will be permitted to remain open only if attached to and part of a gasoline station.” Repair-related vendors and suppliers weren’t exempt, which could have limited repair business even further.
The state’s Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP-NJ) fired back, arguing that auto repair facilities offered essential services—especially to fleet operations—in times of crisis.
The Automotive Services Assocation (ASA) has also issued efforts—the organization has said it hopes to help shops stay open as “essential businesses” during the outbreak. It’s also working to ensure America’s independent repairers are included in any stimulus package associated with the virus.
Further, last Tuesday, the National Automobile Dealers Association and Alliance for Automotive Innovation urged Republican President Donald Trump to nationally declare “vehicle repair, maintenance, and sales facilities” as “essential operations.”