Federal regulators have extended until June 14 broad exemptions from hours-of-service (HOS) rules for drivers hauling freight deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The extension, issued today (May 13), marks the second time the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) exemption has been extended since the original order was put in place immediately following the national emergency declared by President Donald Trump on March 12. The first extension of the order, issued on April 8, was set to expire on May 15.
“Because the Presidentially declared COVID-19 national emergency remains in place, FMCSA is extending the Emergency Declaration…and associated regulatory relief in accordance with 49 CFR § 390.25,” the FMCSA’s latest order noted.
“This extension of the Emergency Declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment and persons, and provides necessary relief from the FMCSRs for motor carriers and drivers engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment and persons.”
Carriers and drivers hauling freight that supports COVID-19 relief efforts have been granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of federal motor carrier regulations, which includes HOS rules. The exemption was soon expanded to include raw materials and other cargo considered essential to coronavirus pandemic relief.
FMCSA re-emphasized that the exemption order does not include routine commercial deliveries. The exemption also does not apply to loads that include a “nominal quantity” of emergency relief that has been added to the truck as a way to use the exemption to move non-essential cargo.
The exemption includes transportation to meet immediate needs for:
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment 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.
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
- Immediate precursor raw materials – such as paper, plastic or alcohol – that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items included in categories listed above.
- Liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems.
- Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19.
- Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
- Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.