The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced an extension of the COVID-19 emergency exemptions for truck drivers in light of the Delta variant. FMCSA first issued the exemptions in March of 2020 following the declaration of the pandemic as a national emergency. The exemptions underwent several edits and modifications to keep pace with the shifting needs and demands caused by COVID-19. On May 26 of this year, FMCSA extended the exemptions through the end of August. Now, the exemptions will continue through the end of November.
Although the outlook was hopeful at the start of the summer, slowing vaccination rates, less social distancing and remote work, and fewer mask mandates have helped several dangerous variants to produce a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations. To keep the emergency relief supply chains going, FMCSA announced the continued exemptions. Any motor carrier or commercial driver providing direct aid for COVID-19 relief efforts is exempt from certain hours of service (HOS) regulations.
The updated list of qualifying deliveries includes:
- Equipment needed to test for, diagnose, or treat COVID
- COVID vaccines and materials required to administer the vaccines
- Sanitation products to inhibit the spread of infections
- Gas, diesel fuel, fuel for jets, and ethyl alcohol
- Goods to assists people affected by COVID-19
- Livestock and feed for livestock
- Food, paper goods, and other groceries for emergency replenishment
FMCSA also outlined what doesn’t qualify to eliminate confusion. This list includes:
- Routine deliveries of the above items
- Non-emergency deliveries of the above items
- Mixed cargo with insignificant amounts of the above items
FMCSA also extended waivers for commercial drivers’ licenses (CDLs), commercial learners’ permits (CLPs), and medical certificates. COVID forced many licensing agencies to close their doors or reduce their hours. Even as work resumed, the speed of service isn’t back to pre-pandemic levels. Medical backlogs are also causing delays in updating medical certificates.
With COVID cases surging, the trucking industry remains essential to delivering relief supplies. However, this creates more risk for drivers who need to take extra precautions to stay healthy. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more about protecting your fleet