The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) announced that for the period of Dec. 1 through Feb. 28, it is granting relief from Parts 390 through 399 of its federal motor carrier safety regulations, arguably the most important of which is its hours of service regulations for truck drivers under Part 395. Those regulations affect transporters of the following freight:
- livestock and livestock feed;
- medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
- vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19;
- supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants; and
- food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
Livestock and livestock feed have had continuous relief since March in large part because of the impacts of COVID-19 on meat processing plants. But the relief for the food, paper products and grocery sectors is a new addition. Further, as it pertains to food, a layman’s interpretation is that it would cover any food item that goes into a distribution center or retail store. The addition of this sector presumably is intended to provide flexibility to help transporters respond to potential hoarding of food and other household items that might take place this winter because of the ongoing pandemic.