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I think I’ve seen it all. “I’m entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” “The government has no right to close my business” and the like. Really? We’re no smarter than that?

Several states have prohibited “mass gatherings” in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and those numbers range from 50, 100, 250 … In fact, as of the date of this story, the President has recommended no mass gatherings over 10 people.

Of course, auctioneers have defied their Governor, President and anyone else telling them they essentially (or actually) can’t have a live auction during this health crisis.

At this moment, I’m privy to auctioneers in Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, and others where the sheriff and/or police have shown up to stop a live auction. These have been both outdoor and indoor auctions with crowds (maybe) exceeding the state’s maximum number.

Soap, hand sanitizer, and wipes don’t counter nor mitigate a state (nor federal) executive order — plain and simple. Auctioneers ignoring such orders put themselves and their sellers in potential jeopardy as well as endanger bidders/buyers with exposure to this dangerous novel virus.

For those in denial, it seems that in 1824, the Supreme Court of the United States observed in Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824) that sovereign state authority includes the authority to enact “quarantine laws” and “health laws of every description.”

It seems to me any live auction in this environment is not worth the substantial risk; can an auctioneer have enough insurance to cover potential claims? Insurance isn’t likely to cover court fines nor jail time …

Further, as we suggested years ago, the harshest critic isn’t an actual court, but the court of “public opinion.” What is your reputation worth? https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/every-auction-lawsuit-perception-vs-reality/.

Reliable updates on the Novel Cornavirus can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Of course, you can continue to consider it a hoax, joke, prank or conspiracy as that’s your progative — to an extent.

You are free to endanger yourself with your ignorance, but it’s not reasonable to endanger others with that same idiocy. Unfortunately, auctioneers rarely operate in isolation so your actions and decisions matter to others.

Lastly, we as auctioneers all too well remember maybe a month or two ago when we bragged about our marketing prowess and large crowds only to now tell everyone our crowds aren’t that big and fall under the least we can all do to protect the public.

As all this is recent news, and rapidly changing, we just a few days ago wrote about this pandemic and auctions. That analysis can be read here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/03/16/auctions-and-a-pandemic/.

Online auctions don’t answer all auctioneers’ concerns here, but they may allow another avenue to earn an income while serving sellers and bidders/buyers until they can resume their live auctions. Regardless, it seems to us the time to avoid any sort of significant gathering of people all in one place.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.