The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is again extending its Emergency Declaration giving motor carriers and drivers relief from specific federal safety regulations related to the hauling of COVID-19 relief supplies.
This extension specifically covers the transportation of vaccines, their components and supplies necessary for their administration. FMCSA is continuing the overall relief through the end of May, 2021. Starting Feb. 17, 2021 and running through May 31, 2021, this will replace and modify the prior Emergency Declaration which was set to run through Feb. 28, 2021.
FMCSA said it is continuing and extending the declaration because the presidentially declared national emergency remains in place, and a continued exemption is needed to support direct emergency assistance for some supply chains.
Compared to the relief afforded by the previous Emergency Declaration, the categories of essential supplies that qualify as “direct assistance in support of relief efforts” remain the same, including vaccines, their components and supplies.
FMCSA has issued and updated several emergency declarations since the first one was issued on March 13, 2020 making adjustments each time to reflect current emergency response needs.
FMCSA has designated five categories of essential supplies:
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
- 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.
- Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19.
By prior emergency declarations, FMCSA dropped the following categories of essential supplies:
- Immediate precursor raw materials – such as paper, plastic or alcohol – that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items listed.
- Equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine and isolation facilities related to COVID-19.
- Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes.
- Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services.
- Liquefied gases used in refrigeration or cooling systems.
FMCSA has determined that there is no longer a need for emergency relief with respect to those categories of supplies, equipment and persons.
The agency is reminding motor carriers that mixed loads with a nominal quantity of essential supplies added solely to obtain relief will not qualify for the emergency declaration and, as before, carriers and drivers must continue to comply with federal regulations in several listed safety areas. Motor carriers and drivers are encouraged to review the applicability, restrictions, and limitations which are included in the emergency declaration.
FMCSA is also permitting but not requiring states to extend the waivers for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders, Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) holders and interstate drivers of commercial motor vehicles through May 31, 2021. Motor carriers and truck drivers should check with their state driver licensing agency on the status in their state. Medical card waivers are extended through May 31, 2021. FMCSA said it is looking forward to these being the last and final COVID-19 waivers.