Don't Get too Excited about Phase 2
If Governor Polis’ daily press briefing has become your favorite “program” during quarantine, then you were not disappointed by today’s episode. The Governor announced today that he would use the expiration of the Stay-at-Home Order (scheduled for April 26) to migrate from Phase 1 to Phase 2 – called “Safer at Home” - of the re-opening of Colorado.
Naturally, business owners are on the edge of their seats wondering what Phase 2 means for auto sales and getting customers onto lots and showroom floors.
We’ll start with the good news: curve-flattening seems to be working and we are progressing slowly back towards normal. The migration to Phase 2 will mean that the social distancing measures that were designed to limit 75-80% of all social interactions, now on only need to limit 60-65%. So, while gatherings above 10 people are still prohibited, small distanced gatherings may become acceptable again. Retailers will be able to offer curbside delivery instead of remote, though workers will continue to have to wear non-medical grade masks. Of course, retail auto parts supply was an essential business and should not be constricted by this.
Now for the bad news: this won’t immediately change current business practices for auto dealers. This is for two reasons: first, under Phase 2, vulnerable populations must continue to stay home, workers must continue to wear masks and gloves where feasible, and patrons may not congregate in lobbies. Offices are still expected to keep their workforce at 50% and implement distancing protocols.
Moreover, all licenses issued by the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board are subject to the Emergency Rule passed by the Board earlier this month. This emergency rule affirmatively states that showrooms are to be closed. The “by appointment” process established for closing out on-line sales remains in place until Monday, August 3rd, unless modified by a subsequent rule. We have yet to hear if the Board will call for another rulemaking.
A side note for Denver dealers: Phase 2 does not immediately take effect for you. Mayor Hancock’s Stay at Home Order will be in effect until April 30. Currently, on May 1, Phase 2 would take effect in Denver. However, the Mayor does have the authority to make a more restrictive rule if he chooses. A recent statement by the Mayor says that his public health team will be evaluating this week with a decision announced before the current city order expires.