WASHINGTON — Six U.S. trade associations representing the tire, auto parts and auto service sectors — including the Auto Care Association, Tire Industry Association and U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association — have banded together to urge state and local government leaders to designate the motor vehicle maintenance, repair and service industry as an "essential service."
In the time of shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19 coronavius pandemic, state and local government leaders must devote critical resources to ensuring the safe continuing operations of the nation's transportation sector, the association executives said in their March 18 letter to the National Governors Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties.
"As the nation's leaders consider emergency measures to protect the American people from the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, our organizations respectfully urge your members to ensure that state and local policies safeguard the ability of essential businesses to continue operations" the associations said in their joint letter.
Other signatories of the letter were the American Trucking Associations, Automotive Oil Change Association and Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association.
"Essential tasks rely on safe and efficient transportation," the letter stated. "Government vehicle fleets (local, state and federal) and other essential personnel (doctors, nurses, health care provides, grocers, etc.) depend on businesses that support the safe operation of the transportation sector."
Those essential personnel should be assured they need not worry about flat tires or vehicle breakdowns, the associations said.
"State and local policies (should) take into account the important role of motor vehicle supply and repair facilities and ensure these essential businesses remain available to support the work of other crucial businesses," they said.
Roy Littlefield IV, TIA's director of government relations, said the association is very concerned with the impact the virus will have on the tire business and the greater economy.
"TIA represents small businesses that cannot switch their core functions to remote operation during this disaster. Tire dealers are staying open under these conditions to especially service trucks, emergency vehicles and vehicles of medical personnel. Tires and tire dealers are essential to keeping the flow of supplies to stores and hospitals."