April 16th : *Canada and the USA have closed the borders. Commercial traffic is still moving at this time. Updated protocol for drivers making border crossings*
Post Updated April 20, 2020.
First we at Peter Suess Transportation Consultant Inc would like to thank all the drivers currently out on the road doing their best during this crisis. We know you are experiencing many hardships, from the lack of very basic services like washrooms and showers to being away from home and family. All front line workers deserve the gratitude of our nations. Thank you!
These are crazy times we live in. With the COVID-19 quickly making it’s way across the world, people from all walks of life are being affected. All industries are feeling the effects as people deal with this invasion in their lives. From social distancing initiatives, self-isolation, panic purchasing and stock piling, our countries are experiencing new hurdles to overcome.
With that in mind we have created this post to place any new updates as pertaining to the trucking and commercial transportation industry.
As of April 16th here is what we know:
Canadian Border Crossing Protocol Update
*Updated* Effective immediately: All truck drivers must wear a non-medical mask when crossing the border.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has stated that going forward all essential workers will need to wear a mask or face covering when crossing the border. If you do not have a non-medical grade mask when you arrive at the border, a Canada Border Services Agent will give one to you.
Truck drivers are still exempt from the 14-day quarantine when crossing the border, unless symptomatic. REMINDER: If you are on your days off, you are required to self-isolate during this time.
Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) has released additional information on how to proceed with border crossings as an essential service.
1) Those involved with essential services such as truck drivers are exempt from the 14-day quarantine. However, if you are going on days off and not performing duties, drivers must follow self-isolation protocol. This means drivers on their time off must follow physical distancing, self-monitor for symptoms, stay in your place of residence as much as possible, and if you feel sick, follow the directions of your local public health authority.
2) To reduce document handling at Primary Inspection Lines (PIL) they are encouraging drivers to sign up for electronic notices. Signing up for this service means you will no longer need to receive a stamped copy of the lead sheet at the PIL. Sign up here: https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/eservices/menu-eng.html#tab5
3) Important: only truck drivers and their co-drivers (if required) are considered essential services and allowed to cross the border at this time. Any additional passengers (including family and friends) who are not essential services will not be allowed to cross. The only exceptions are Canadian residents or permanent residents and those individuals must begin their mandatory 14-day self-isolation once in Canada.
Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has announced that they are reducing hours at 27 locations. Read the full listing of locations and the new hours here.
Provincial closures and updates
Ontario: Drive test centers and part time Travel Centers are closed as of March 23.
Quebec: the SAAQ has extended an extra month to those with heavy vehicle to get their routine maintenance. They have also suspended knowledge and road tests at this time.
Alberta: As of March 20th all commercial road tests are suspended for the next 4 weeks. Expiry dates for licences, registration, and other permits and certificates are being extended to May 15th.
Manitoba: Manitoba is encouraging anyone how has licensing/registrations/vehicle insurance/etc transactions contact their regular insurance brokers or directly with MPI by phone or online. Manitoba has also released a new Spring Restrictions guide to help with maintaining the food supply chain. You can find that here.
Canada USA Borders
Canada and the USA has just announced that it has closed it’s borders all non-essential traffic. The important exceptions to this rule are that Canadian citizens are allowed to come home, as are permanent residents.
Canada announced that it wants to keep trade lines open as they are vital to everyone on both sides of the border, so commercial traffic is able to come through at this time. Drivers who are foreign workers will be allowed to return to Canada
Canada has stated that they are upping the number of personnel at border crossings, as well as training border security in analyzing travelers for signs of COVID-19. Border security will be asking each person to answer a series of questions to help determine if anyone is suffering from the virus. You can read more here.
*Updated* U.S. Expanded Hours of Service Emergency Suspension
FMCSA’s expanded emergency declaration provides regulatory relief to truck drivers providing direct assistance in transporting emergency items, including:
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 to be used for the manufacture of essential items.
Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine.
Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes.
Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services.
Please note this only applies to those drivers who are providing direct assistance and NOT normal commercial traffic.
Update on Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania rest areas and welcome centers were closed earlier this week, including parking lots. The state is now working to reopen rest areas for truck-only parking within the next day or two. According to Kevin Stewart, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association “They are unsure whether that will include restroom and vending or keep the buildings closed and utilize port-a-potties or offer no services outside of parking,” but “they are looking at the high volume locations first. We continue to stress the utmost importance rest areas play in maintaining driver health and safety and will continue to press the department to open these facilities as expeditiously as possible.”
As per the Penn DOT site: “At these locations, PennDOT will be taking down the barricades on some facilities in critical locations and making them available for truck parking. Portable restroom facilities will be available at these locations; each location will have five portable toilets (one of which is ADA-accessible) that will be cleaned once a day. Electronic message signs will be used near the applicable centers to notify drivers near the opened areas. In order to prevent further spread of COVID-19, we will not be opening any of the indoor facilities because there is no staff to keep them clean and properly sanitized. We will continue to evaluate and will determine whether additional rest areas can be reopened.”
Pennsylvania has put out a list of locations that have been reopened:
Interstate 79: Crawford County NB/SB;
Interstate 79: Allegheny NB only;
Interstate 80: Venango County EB/WB;
Interstate 80: Centre County EB/WB;
Interstate 80: Montour County EB/WB;
Interstate 81: Luzerne County NB/SB;
Interstate 81: Cumberland County NB/SB;
We have heard that many other states are also reporting closures, fast food chains have closed dinning rooms, services in other locations have been greatly reduced or closed for the time being. Drivers are urged to be prepared.
Here are the links for some of the bigger chains out there and what they are doing to stay open during COVID-19 pandemic:
Ontario extends validation periods for driver licences, licence plate validation, Ontario Photo Cards, and Commercial Vehicle Operator Registration certificates, among others. Expiring and expired health cards will continue to provide access to health services. The Ministry of Transportation is also automatically extending the due dates for medical or vision reports. This extension will be in place until such time that, based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, the current situation improves.
The MTO earlier issued this statement new plates and permits:
“The Ministry of Transportation has initiated a contingency plan in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. To reduce the impact this disruption has on business, vehicle registrants and permit requestors, time-critical services related to Oversize/Overweight Single-Trip Permits and MVIS Stock orders will continue to be delivered in a limited capacity.
The office located at 301 St. Paul St., St. Catharines will be temporarily closed. Permit requests and stock orders can continue to be sent by fax.”
The MTO has lifted the reduced load bans in Southern Ontario for anyone hauling materials considered to be essential. This will be in effect until June 30.
IRP offices are reducing their office hours to 8 a.m. -3 p.m.. Services will still be provided by mail, email, and phone. Plates, permits, voltages, and cab cards can be delivered by courier.
New York Permit Office
The State of New York has stated that they have instructed all non-essential employees to not report to work for the next two weeks. As such the Central Permit Office has set up a limited number of staff to work from home. As such, there may be delays in returning phone calls. However, anyone looking to reach the Permit Office can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the Callback feature in the HOOCS system. They want people to be prepared for permit delays as they work out the kinks of working remotely.
Locations where masks are now mandatory:
Face masks are now mandatory in these three states. It does not have to be medical grade and there are no exemptions based on industry, or if your job is considered essential.
DriverCheck has issued a statement on how drug and alcohol testing will be proceeding. Drivers who have travelled to the United States will be tested as per normal, providing they are asymptomatic and have not been in contact with another person with or suspected to have COVID-19. However, DriverCheck is imposing measures to mitigate any contagion. All drivers will have to wear face masks throughout the testing period, and all DriverCheck personnel will be wearing full protective gear. Read DriverChecks full update here.
We at PSTC are keeping our ear to the ground to keep you updated as the situation progresses. We are still open and available to help you out with your trucking business.
Keep healthy out there everyone and keep washing those hands!
If you want to sign up for updates about COVID-19 and how its affecting trucking sign up for our list here. We will only send out info during the duration of the pandemic.