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The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has prompted many states and other political subdivisions to deny some businesses from operating — in an attempt to isolate the virus and slow the spread.

This has meant many auctioneers are being emotionally and economically impacted like never before. For example, this writing has been shared on Facebook and elsewhere how this particular auctioneer(?) has been affected:

It is easy to shout stay home and stay safe when you have little to lose. It is easy when the government is willing to pay you more than your employer to stay at home. It is easy when you can just get another job if your employer goes bankrupt. But for some of us we have 25+ years of hard work invested, life savings invested, decades of paying for tuition and specialized training invested. We are the ones with no government safety net. We don’t need more loans. We already have loans. We need income. Some of us have operating costs that don’t go away when the government says just sit on your couch. $600/week in government handouts doesn’t pay for $10,000 a month in overhead. So when you tell someone who has an entire lifetime of effort and savings invested in a small business to just stay home, just remember that when the unemployment runs out and that job is no longer there because the owner lost everything. For many of us, we can easily implement procedures to continue at least some level of business safety. But for now, we just get told to stay home as our dream wastes away. By all means, if you are an at-risk person, stay home and be safe. But destroying someone else’s life doesn’t save yours.

I certainly agree that destroying someone else’s life doesn’t save anyone else’s life. Yet, is the safety of society of greater importance than any one business owner’s safety? As we’ve written, it’s a terribly difficult situation we find ourselves in.

Yet, could we look at it this another way … “It’s more important I stay in business than you stay alive?” It isn’t the at-risk versus the business community — it’s a virus that attacks people independent of their financial status, being an employee or employer, having savings or no savings …

Further, it’s a bit more complex than just having “at-risk” people stay home, as everyone is somewhat at-risk, and you can have the virus and be asymptomatic for several days — infecting others. But you’re willing to provide some level of business safety?

At the time of this writing, there is a large percentage of people who have been told — directed — to “shelter in place” except for any essentials such as securing food, some medical appointments, some farming operations, and other indispensable functions.

I feel for any auctioneer out of business, but I know some who have secured other work, started selling online or talked with their financial institution about government assistance including a forgivable loan under the CARES Act; here’s an overview of that plan: https://www.smithschafer.com/paycheck-protection-program-loans-25-faqs/.

Further, states are eligible to implement Pandemic Unemployment Assistance designed moreso for individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment compensation.

Hopefully, for the health and safety of all auctioneers as well as the general public, this pandemic will wane and we can get back to the [new] normal. Until then, it appears the general public’s health is going to trump individual rights for a while.

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.