Editor's note: Penske Automotive's stores in the San Francisco area are open. The dealership group on Wednesday corrected a previous statement about the status of its stores there.
Five CarMax dealerships in California have closed until April 7 under county requirements amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, while some dealerships across the U.S. are shutting at least parts of store operations as the number of U.S. coronavirus cases and deaths continues to climb.
Used-vehicle giant CarMax said in an update that it would close stores in Pleasanton, Fremont, San Jose, Colma and Pleasant Hill beginning Tuesday. The company said the majority of its 215 nationwide stores remain open.
CarMax said two stores closed Monday night, while three others will be closing by 5 p.m. local time Tuesday after working to return vehicles customers had in for repair.
"We've put measures in place to reduce the risk of exposure and further spread of COVID-19 in our communities," CarMax said in a statement. "We will continue to actively monitor developments and governmental guidance and will take action to reduce the spread of the virus."
The counties of San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda, plus the city of Berkeley, have issued a shelter-at-home order effective Tuesday until April 7, according to a memo from the California New Car Dealers Association. The order requires nonessential businesses in those counties to close. The association said auto repair is listed as an essential business, so dealership service and parts operations should remain open.
Stephen Smith, president of the Silicon Valley Auto Dealers Association, said in an email that whether to keep sales open is an “individual dealer decision."
Brian Maas, president of the California dealers association, said the association was working to get clarity for members in the counties involved.
It was not immediately clear how other new-vehicle retailers are dealing with the order.
At least a few U.S. Mercedes-Benz dealerships have closed due to government restrictions, the German automaker said, though it declined to disclose which stores were impacted. Some dealerships may have altered sales hours or are providing only parts and service. Mercedes-Benz encourages customers call outlets directly.
“This is a dynamic situation which continues to evolve, and we are closely monitoring developments together with our dealer partners to ensure we are supporting our customers in a safe and responsible manner,” Mercedes-Benz said in a statement. “To date, a small number of dealerships have adjusted their operations based on local developments, regional government or municipality mandates for business operations as well as ramped up sanitization efforts. Recent actions include prioritizing service and roadside support and limiting sales staff to online interaction if required.”
Other dealerships across the country are closing at least part of their operations. The coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon has infected more than 5,300 people in 49 states, with 96 deaths.
Many dealership groups remain open for business. AutoNation Inc., the nation's largest new-vehicle retailer, said Tuesday that its stores remained open nationally. Chief Marketing Officer Marc Cannon said AutoNation at certain stores is implementing home delivery for customers.
The Jim Shorkey Auto Group in Irwin, Pa., in a Facebook message Monday, said it was shifting vehicle sales to over the phone and Internet only.
"To support our communities in slowing the spread of COVID-19, our in-store sales operations will be closed until further notice," according to the message.
Jim Shorkey, with 10 stores, said that it would continue to serve guests that require an essential vehicle purchase, but it asked that nonessential purchases be delayed to help "delay the spread of COVID-19," according to the message.
The dealership group said it is staffing service departments with limited staff "to ensure that our customers and community members who still have to go to work every day will have access to our service teams." It also plans to offer loaner vehicles to people who need them.
Executives with Jim Shorkey did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
David Muller contributed to this report.