Regulatory exemptions for COVID-19 "emergency relief" loads will now be limited to only a few categories. 
 -  Photo: Werner Enterprises

Regulatory exemptions for COVID-19 "emergency relief" loads will now be limited to only a few categories.

Photo: Werner Enterprises

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended its COVID-19 emergency declaration allowing for the exemption of truck drivers and motor carriers from hours-of-service rules and certain other regulations if delivering relief loads – but it has narrowed the definition of relief loads.

The June 8 notice continues the nationwide exemption granted from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations through July 14, 2020.

FMCSA said it is continuing the exemption because the presidentially declared emergency remains in place, and because a continued exemption is needed to support direct emergency assistance for some supply chains.

However, the agency has concluded that there is no longer a need for emergency relief with respect to some categories of supplies, equipment, and persons covered by the May 13 extension.

After the previous exemption expires on June 14, the exemption will cover emergency relief efforts only for transportation of:

  • livestock and livestock feed
  • 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.

Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a “nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.”

Previously, the exemption also covered food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores, the immediate precursor raw materials for manufacturing medical and sanitary supplies, fuel, liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems, and equipment and supplies for temporary housing and quarantine facilities.

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

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