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Auctions are indeed continuing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Cases across the United States tended to wain during the summer months, but as we are heading into autumn, cases are unfortunately spiking in some areas.

Could you contract the Coronavirus at a live auction (or even an online auction pickup?) You certainly can if the auctioneer is not taking prudent precautions (and possibly regardless:)

  1. Mandatory masks for all attendees except for the auctioneer
  2. Hand sanitizer widely available at various locations
  3. Social distancing of a minimum of 6′ between people
  4. Frequent hand washing
  5. Floor markings near concentrated areas for standing/waiting
  6. Signage indicating one-way entrances/exits
  7. Infected or otherwise sick people being told to stay home

Has anyone contracted the Coronavirus at a live auction? They have, with a recent auction resulting in an initial count of 6 infected attendees, and likely requiring a 14-day quarantine for all who attended.

For that matter, has anyone contacted the Coronavirus at a store, retail outlet, game, school, church, government office, playground, college, bar, restaurant …? It’s not like auctions are any more/less safe necessarily.

Coronavirus symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, or vomiting, and diarrhea.

Prompt medical attention should be sought with other Coronavirus symptoms which include trouble breathing, persistent pain, or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake and bluish lips or face.

An online auction with shipping the items you won might be the safest auction in this environment. Secondly, any online auction with pickups that are spaced or scheduled can be as safe. Live auctions inherently have the most risk, but can be (and should be) managed to minimize it.

As an auction bidder — and even as a seller — it’s important to inquire what precautions are in place to lessen the chances of infection. We all have to gauge what risk we are willing to accept, but it’s not up to us what risk we assign to others.

In other words, if you are unwilling to wear a mask or insist on attending an auction when symptomatic, you are risking others’ lives and that’s not responsible nor reasonable. Said another way, you have a right to risk your own life, but not the lives of others.

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, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.